Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL)-linked Boko Haram jihadis, driving in a convoy of more than ten terrorist vehicles, launched a major attack in northeastern Nigeria’s Borno State near the end of last year, overrunning military bases and forcing some of the troops to flee into neighboring Chad.
There are conflicting reports about whether the fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP), a Boko Haram offshoot, managed to fully seize control of several towns in the Lake Chad axis of Northern Borno State, namely Baga and neighboring villages.
Several reports do concede that the jihadis at least managed to temporarily seize one of the towns.
Despite denials by the Nigerian military, Boko Haram fighters seized Baga, Doron-Baga, Kross Kawwa, Bunduran, Kekeno and Kukawa towns of Borno State after three days of fierce battles from Wednesday [December 26] to Friday [December 28] last week, Daily Trust learnt from impeccable military and political [unnamed] sources in Maiduguri yesterday.
All six towns are major population centers in Kukawa local government area of northern Borno. There are currently no Nigerian or Multinational forces in the areas, Daily Trust learned from multiple sources last night.
The insurgents, driving in a convoy of more than ten fighter vehicles, used the main road from Kros Kawwa to launch coordinated attacks on Wednesday last week, December 26. They overrun the Multinational forces’ headquarters, a naval fighting base and a Marine Police base in some of the attacked areas, the sources said.
On December 31, Vanguard, also citing anonymous security and civilian sources, reported that Nigerian forces were preparing to launch an offensive to retake Baga. However, on Wednesday several Nigerian media outlets, including Daily Trust and Vanguard, noted that an on-the-ground investigation by a group known as the Centre for Conflict Resolution and Management (CCRM) found that Boko Haram failed to seize control of any territory in Borno State in recent days.
CCRM dismissed media reports about the terrorist group seizing several towns in Borno as “aspects of propaganda in warfare.”
Citing data analysis and on the ground interviews in Baga and other parts of northeastern Nigeria, CCRM claimed:
Baga town and its environs are not under the control of Boko Haram Insurgents. Baga Town witnessed an attempted takeover by heavily armed Boko Haram Insurgents, but the attack was successfully repelled by the combined grand and air forces of the Armed Forces Baga and its environs are accessible to all commuters.
Consistent with residents quoted by several media reports, the group noted that ISIS-linked jihadis mainly focused on seizing control of military installations rather than inflicting harm on locals.
CCRM did concede that the Boko Haram did temporarily occupy the town of Cross Kauwa near Baga.
The origins of the CCRM group are not clear, nor did Breitbart News manage to find evidence of the group’s existence in Nigerian media prior to their remarks about the raid.
On Monday, Borno Governor Kashim Shettima admitted that the security situation in the state has worsened.
“The reality is that while so much was achieved by our gallant military men and women, we are today faced with serious challenges in Borno State,” he reportedly declared.
On Wednesday, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who has falsely claimed victory over Boko Haram on several occasions, reportedly wrote on Twitter that there is an improvement in the fight against the terrorist group in northeastern Nigeria despite the recent challenges.
Buhari wrote, “In spite of the challenges we’ve had, people in the North East know that we have recorded remarkable improvement in the fight against Boko Haram. There is no doubt that we will fully overcome these challenges and win the war against terrorism in Nigeria.”
Atiku Abubakar, the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) presidential candidate, indicated that “Buhari’s denial of the continued threats of the Boko Haram insurgency has made the demand for [a] mental test for all presidential candidates imperative,” Vanguard reported.