Islamic State arm reportedly seizes Nigerian town

The Islamic State West Africa (ISWA) reportedly seized the town of Baga in northeastern Nigeria earlier this week. Reports from the region are often murky, and it is possible that ISWA’s men will not continue to hold the town, if they still do. But the group released a series of images today that purportedly document its advances there. The photos show captured spoils, including military vehicles and weaponry, as well as dead Nigerian soldiers.

The Nigerian military issued its own statement on recent events, disputing a media report suggesting that Boko Haram had captured the town and pinned down the Army’s forces. The Nigerian military’s statement did not mention ISWA, which has its own footprint in the region.

In its statement on Dec. 28, the Army claimed that there are “ongoing clearing and mop up operations in the general area” and therefore “no one could give accurate details of the encounter yet, as the troops have been reinforced and are busy with pursuit and mopping up operations against the terrorists.”

However, independent reporting suggests that the Nigerian military is downplaying ISWA’s recent gains, even if they prove to be fleeting.

Citing “three residents” of Baga, BBC News reported that “[h]undreds of people have fled the fishing town…after the militants overran it” on the night of Dec. 26-27. “The militants seized weapons from a military base, and torched a naval base on the shores of Lake Chad, they said.” BBC added that, according to one resident, the jihadis had taken control of the town mosque as of the morning of Dec. 27.

BBC News also reported, citing “other residents,” that the jihadis “had captured heavy armored tanks, boats and a large cache of weapons during the raid on the military and naval bases.” One of the bases “was the local headquarters of the multinational task force, which includes troops from neighboring states fighting the militants.”

This account is generally consistent with the Islamic State’s own reporting. The group’s media arm issued a statement claiming that “dozens of apostate Nigerian Army personnel” had been killed or injured during ISWA’s assault on an army barracks in Baga. In the same statement, the Islamic State claimed that its loyalists in West Africa had captured “an assortment of weapons and ammunition.”

The Islamic State then released a photo set earlier today (Dec. 29) documenting its spoils and the damage done to the Nigerian military. The images, with the exception of two showing the corpses of Nigerian soldiers, can be seen below.

ISWA photos from the raid in Baga, a town in northeastern Nigeria near Lake Chad:

Thomas Joscelyn is a Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and the Senior Editor for FDD's Long War Journal.

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1 Comment

  • What? Last time we heard Trump saying ISIS was defeated? Yeah maybe in Syria but not in Africa! Keep up the good pace and continue our approach! Pray for our troops our there! Happy new year to everybody and keep up the good work!

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