Boko Haram has been dislodged from Baga, the fishing town in Borno state which was taken over by the militants more than a month again. Some of the militants drowned in Lake Chad as they fled air bombardments, according to Chris Olukolade, a major general and the spokesman for the Nigerian military. In a tweet by the defence headquarters, the military authorities said the town was retaken on Saturday after a fierce battle resulting in “heavy casualties”.
This represents yet another major victory for Nigeria in the war against the militants in recent times. Announcing the successful operation, Olukolade said: “A large number of terrorists have drowned in the Lake Chad as they fled the heavy bombardment by Nigerian air force heralding the advance of Nigerian troops on mission to flush them out of Baga. Not even the strategy of mining over 1500 spots with land mines on the routes leading to the town could save the terrorists from the aggressive move of advancing troops.
“All the land mines were skillfully cleared one after the other. Eventually, the resistance of the terrorists collapsed and the land forces finally stormed the town in the early hours of Friday.” He stated that “many of the terrorists died while an unknown but substantial number of them fled with various degrees of injury, in the series of encounter along the routes of advance as troops headed for Baga.”
“Apart from the 5 anti air craft guns and the rifles captured from the terrorists, over 34 motorcycles and 5 vehicles including trucks being used for operations by the terrorists were destroyed in the course of the fighting as troops headed for Baga. The troops finally began clearing the terrorists from Baga on arrival in the town early Saturday morning,” Olukolade said.
“A comprehensive cordon and search phase of military operation has now commenced to enable troops mop up arms and ammunition and also apprehend any terrorist who might be hiding in the vicinity. The exercise will also determine details of the casualties inflicted or incurred in the course of the operations to clear Baga and environ of terrorists.
“Similar exercise is being carried out in over 15 locations namely Gajigana, Ngaze, Ngenzai, Marte Junction, Mile 90, Yoyo, Kekeno, Kukawa, Cross Kauwa,, Kangarwa, Amirari, Kichimatari, Borokari Barati, Kauwa and other localities where troops have flushed out the terrorists in the operations preceding the entry to Baga. The troops are now dominating and conducting aggressive patrols in the locations. The morale of troops remains high.”
Baga was the scene of a massacre by the insurgents on January 3, during which thousands were estimated to have been killed in what is considered the worst single killing by Boko Haram. Baga is on Nigeria’s border with Chad, which is also participating in the renewed push to end the insurgency. Cameroon and Niger are also part of the multinational force, although Saturday’s battle in Baga is thought to have been carried out by Nigeria alone. Last week, Nigeria captured Monguno and Marte from the militants.