Some good news came out of Nigeria over the weekend, as Boko Haram was pushed out of Baga, a town on Lake Chad where an estimated 2,000 were slaughtered by the terrorist gang last month.
CNN reports the Nigerian military is conducting a dozen separate offenses against Boko Haram, with the liberation of Baga a high priority due to its location and the hideous atrocities perpetrated when it was overrun in January. Two other towns in northeastern Nigeria were recaptured from Boko Haram last week.
The civilian death toll from that attack has never been decisively calculated, as local officials said it was too dangerous to recover all the bodies while Boko Haram was still in control of the area. There were reports of people being burned alive inside their houses, and fleeing Baga residents chased down and killed by jihadis on motorcycles.
Perhaps a final count can now be attempted, because the Nigerian military claims to have defeated Boko Haram in detail. Top military spokesman Major General Chris Olukolade said a large number of civilians drowned in Lake Chad while attempting to flee the battle.
A fair number of terrorists were also captured trying to flee the town while disguised as women, according to Newsweek, which has a note of skepticism about the Nigerian government’s claims of overwhelming military success. “The Nigerian military and the country’s security services have faced staunch criticism from Nigerian commentators after recommending that the presidential election, originally scheduled for February 14, be postponed until March 28 in order to carry out a six-week offensive against Boko Haram,” Newsweek explains. “Experts believe the military is now increasingly publicising any successes they have in the battle against the insurgency during its pre-election operation after years of failing to contain the Boko Haram threat.”
A political opponent of incumbent Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan has also accused him of planning a scheme to arrest a ringer for Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau, who would allegedly claim he was working for the opposition All Progressives Congress “in order to defame the party and hurt their electoral prospects.” It sounds like a preposterous allegation, but then again, Nigerian politics can be lively.
The BBC reports, “it is not yet clear whether other armies were involved in the recapture of Baga.” A spokesman for the Chadian army said none of his country’s forces were involved in the operation, although they have conducted other operations inside Nigeria.