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2015 - Boko Haram

On 04 January 2015, Boko Haram seized the town of Baga and the local military base. The group is already controlling 16 neighboring towns, Mr Bukar said. Nigerian lawmaker Maina Maaji Lawan told BBC that Boko Haram controlled 70% of the Borno State.

According to the officials, the raids on the civilian population in the town of Baga began late on Tuesday 06 January and continued through Wednesday 07 January. Musa Alhaji Bukar, a senior government official in the area, told the BBC that the town had been burnt down. He also said that the fleeing residents had been unable to bury the dead, and corpses littered the town's streets. According to the official, more than 2,000 people were killed in the raids but other reports put the number in the hundreds.

The violence in Baga was astounding, even for Boko Haram. But it was no accident that Boko Haram picked the town of Baga to attack in Nigerias northeast, routing the military and torching the fishing community. The towns strong vigilante groups may have made it a target. Baga had been the scene of several violent incidents during the insurgency. As the threat of Boko Haram increased, vigilante groups known as the Civilian Joint Task Force formed in the region. They were successful in keeping the town safe from Boko Haram insurgents.

Baga was not the only town with a civilian Joint Task Force presence. In November 2014, Boko Haram raided the town of Damasak, killing 50 people in what locals say was retaliation against the towns vigilante group. Boko Haram fears the civilian JTF more than the army.

In January 2015 Niger, Cameroon and Chad launched a regional military campaign to help Nigeria defeat the Boko Haram insurgency. Chad deployed troops in support of Cameroonian efforts to stop repeated cross-border raids by the Islamists, whose operations increasingly threaten Nigeria's neighbors. The African Union authorized the creation of the regional force, which will also include Benin, and pushed for a UN Security Council mandate for the operation.

By the beginning of 2015, Boko Haram controlled an area about the size of Maryland, including nearly two dozen municipalities in Borno. In January, the group seized Baga, on the Chadian border, and overran a military base used by a joint Nigerian, Chadian and Niger military task force. Nigerian officials reported that thousands of civilians may have been slaughtered, as people were driven to the shores Lake Chad, fleeing by motorized longboats. In early February, Nigerian military officials announced they couldnt ensure the security of national elections, and the vote was delayed until March 28.

The renewed offensive by the Nigerian military and troops from neighboring Chad, Cameroon and Niger put considerable pressure on Boko Haram. Nigerias military recaptured a string of towns from the militants, including Baga, where the extremists overran a military base and carried out a massacre.

A March 2015 audio message purported to be from the leader of Nigerias Boko Haram, Abubakar Shekau, pledging allegiance to the Syria- and Iraq-based Islamic State. The jihadist monitoring group SITE on 07 March 2015 quoted Shekau as saying, "We announce our allegiance to the Caliph."

The Nigerian military said March 13, 2015 troops had freed the last area held by Boko Haram militants in northeastern Adamawa state. The military said that troops on Thursday cleared insurgents out of Madagali, an area near the Nigerian-Cameroon border. There was no independent verification of the report.

Jonathan and other government sources acknowledged that non-African military personnel also were involved. Jonathan described the personnel as trainers, but Nigerian troops said that many had taken part in the fighting. The foreigners reportedly came from South Africa, Britain and Ukraine. Nigeria brought in hundreds of mercenaries from South Africa and the former Soviet Union to give its offensive against Boko Haram a boost. Security and diplomatic sources put the total much higher than the hundred or so previously reported. The foreign troops were said to be linked to the leaders of former South African private military firm Executive Outcomes.

US assistance had included training, such as the Flintlock exercises. The 2015 regional exercise just wrapped in Chad, and it included regional troops headed off to fight Boko Haram inside and along the borders of Nigeria as part of an ongoing regional offensive.

In April 2015 Boko Haram renamed itself Islamic State's West Africa Province (ISWAP) as militants launch new offensive against government forces. The diffuse organisation appeared to continue to operate under its official name Jama'atu Ahlis Sunna Lidda'awati wal-Jihad, Arabic for People Committed to the Propagation of the Prophet's Teachings and Jihad.Boko Haram, a nickname for the group meaning Western education is forbidden, had been used since the group was formed in 2002 when that was its main focus.

Nigeria freed another 234 women and children from the Sambisa forest 30 April 2015, considered a bastion of armed group Boko Haram. The defence headquarters said that the hostages were rescued in the Kawuri and Konduga end of the forest located in the country's north east neighboring Chad. The Nigerian military reported rescuing almost 300 women and children in the Sambisa Forest on 28 April 2015 after deploying ground troops into the forest more than a week earlier. Outgoing President Goodluck Jonathan said that the Sambisa Forest was the last refuge for the group, and he pledged to "hand over a Nigeria completely free of terrorist strongholds."

On August 13, 2015 Nigeria's president ordered the military to defeat the Boko Haram insurgency within three months. President Muhammadu Buhari spoke in Abuja as he swore in four new military chiefs. Buhari replaced the heads of the army, navy, air force and his chief of defense staff soon after taking office May 29, in an effort to re-energize the fight against Boko Haram. The militants had killed nearly 1,000 Nigerians in raids and suicide attacks since Buhari was inaugurated.

Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said 23 December 2015 his country has 'technically' won the war against Boko Haram, in comments issued days before his self-imposed deadline for defeating the militant group. Buhari told British radio that Boko Haram is no longer capable of carrying out conventional attacks against security forces or population centers. He said they have now 'reverted' to using improvised explosive devices instead.

On 26 December 2015 Sani Sidi, director general of Nigeria's National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA), told reporters in the northwestern state of Kaduna that success has been achieved this year in the fight against Boko Haram. All Nigerian communities hitherto under the control of Boko Haram had been retaken by troops deployed in the northeast of the country to battle the insurgents, the Nigerian official said. According to the official, there was no community that had not been liberated from Boko Haram due to the efforts of soldiers.

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Page last modified: 11-02-2016 19:50:47 ZULU