Boko Haram sacked two military bases in northeast Nigeria as the jihadist fighters battle for control of a strategic town on Lake Chad, military sources said on Thursday.
Islamic State West Africa Province fighters overran a naval base and a Multinational Joint Task Force (MNJTF) post in the fishing town of Baga after a fierce battle overnight on Wednesday, December 26, the sources told AFP.
Fighters in several vehicles stormed Baga and engaged troops in intense fighting at the MNJTF base which hosts units from Nigeria, Niger, Chad and Cameroon.
The insurgents also sacked a naval base in Mile 3 which lies 3 miles (5 km) from Baga, a military source who asked not to be identified told AFP.
“The troops were overpowered and forced to withdraw,” the source, adding that “the terrorists carted away guntrucks, ammunition and multiple rocket launchers from the base.”
Troops from the two bases withdrew to another naval base at Fish Dam on the shores of Lake Chad, the military source said.
That base was well secured, and resisted several attempts by Boko Haram fighters to overrun it, the source added.
The jihadists then retreated and the troops decided not to pursue them to avoid running into an ambush, a strategy Boko Haram often employs against the military, the officer said.
Nigerian army spokesperson Sani Usman confirmed the attack in a Facebook post which said the assault began at about 7 p.m. local time (1800 GMT).
“The troops along with their Nigerian Navy counterparts put up a very determined fight” all night, he said, adding that one navy member was killed.
Troop reinforcements were in pursuit of the Boko Haram fighters and the Nigerian Air Force was also mobilised and engaged the fleeing fighters, he said.
Residents of the regional capital Maiduguri reported seeing six fighter jets flying towards Baga on Thursday.