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Nigeria Boko Haram Terrorist
Image: picture alliance/AP Photo

Nigerian Islamist militants seize Baga military base

January 5, 2015

Suspected Boko Haram Islamist militants have seized the headquarters of a multinational military force in the town of Baga near Nigeria's border with Chad.


The multinational force consists of troops from Niger, Chad and Cameroon as well as Nigeria, and the attack came just days after the foreign troops had abandoned the base.

Dozens of Nigerian civilians and at least 11 soldiers were killed in Saturday's (03.01.2014) attack. There are fears that the insurgents could use Baga as a base to attack Maiduguri, capital of Borno state.

DW spoke to Ryan Cummings, chief analyst for Africa with the crisis management company red24

DW: What were the circumstances surrounding the attack on Baga?

Ryan Cummings: When you look specifically at the northern regions of Borno state around the Lake Chadian border, a lot of the urban centers and local government areas in that region were already under the control of Boko Haram. Baga was one of the last remaining towns that was under the control of the Nigerian federal government. So basically what happened was that you had an area that was completely isolated from the rest of Nigeria - an area which was surrounded by other areas that were under the control of Boko Haram. One can say it was possibly just a matter of time before Baga was attacked.

What can you tell us about the base?

The base itself was created in 1998 and was specifically mandated to deal with cross-border banditry which was quite rife in that region. With the advent of Boko Haram insurgency, the multinational force stationed there was also given the official mandate of trying to counter the activities of Boko Haram.

So nothing altered when the mandate changed?

Well, the dynamic within Baga and its surrounds changed significantly with Boko Haram attacking and assuming various positions around the town. Obviously the ability of the force stationed at the base to carry out their duties was compromised due the fact that the logistical operational supply line, which would have supplied them with resources and reinforcements, had been compromised and obviously these military personnel were left quite isolated.

This is a strategic position which Boko Haram now has under its control. What are the implications?

Boko Haram has demonstrated in the course of 2014 that it is keen on assimilating territory. It seems that the attack on Baga is very congruent with the sect's methodology of trying to capture as much land in northeastern Nigeria as possible to create what many define as its own Islamic caliphate within that region of Nigeria. And Boko Haram will probably try to continue to expand its territorial advance in northeastern Nigeria and more attacks in Borno state should be anticipated in the short term. Other areas in Nigeria which remain vulnerable to Boko Haram's territorial expansion include the neighboring states of Yobe, Adamawa and even perhaps Gombe which has experienced quite an uptick in insurgent attacks over the past few weeks.

Ryan Cummings is the chief analyst for Africa at the crisis management company red24

Interview: Abu-Bakkar Jalloh

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