Nigerian army retakes town of Baga from Boko Haram militants

Chad's military says it was not involved in the recapture of the town, which was assaulted by Boko Haram earlier this year in what many consider the worst attack by the group.

Fred Lambert

BAGA, Nigeria, Feb. 21 (UPI) -- Nigeria's military says it recaptured Baga, a town in northeastern Nigeria where thousands of people went missing in the wake of an assault by Boko Haram militants in January.

Nigeria's army on Saturday said it had seized the town after sustaining "heavy casualties" in a "fierce battle," and that mop-up operations were ongoing.


The town was initially seized and held since early January by Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, which has since 2009 fought the Nigerian government in pursuit of an Islamic state in the African nation.

While attacking a military base near Baga on Jan. 3, the group sent multinational troops from Nigeria, Niger and Chad into retreat, leaving the village itself unguarded.

A second attack on Jan. 7 ended with scores of dead bodies in Baga's streets as most of the village was burned down. The Nigerian government puts the total death count at around 150, but up to 2,000 missing villagers are feared dead. Several others fled into neighboring Chad in order to escape what was considered Boko Haram's deadliest attack ever.


A spokesman with Chad's army told the BBC that no Chadian troops were involved in the recapture of Baga, despite the African Union's promise in late January to send 7,500 multinational troops to fight the Boko Haram insurgency.

"I am deeply horrified by the tragedy Boko Haram continues to inflict on our people, kidnapping young girls from school, torching villages, terrorizing whole communities and the senseless killing," AU Chairwoman Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma said at the time. "We must act now, and act collectively against this progressing threat."

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