March 18, 2015
Nigeria’s military says it has retaken the north-eastern town of Bama from the Islamist military group Boko Haram.
A large number of militants were killed and a “mopping up” operation is continuing in the second largest town in Borno state, it said.
Boko Haram was reportedly also ousted from Goniri, its last base in neighbouring Yobe state.
The group recently swore allegiance to the Islamic State militants based in Syria and Iraq.
The violence in Nigeria has killed more than 15,500 people since 2012.
The conflict has since spread to neighbouring countries, including Chad and Cameroon.
Nigeria’s military spokesman Gen Chris Olukolade said the militants had suffered “massive” casualties, AFP news agency reports.
Bama is significant as it is close to the state capital Maiduguri and has witnessed some of the worst violence during this insurgency, the BBC’s Will Ross reports from Lagos.
The town was attacked several times by the jihadists before they captured it six months ago, our correspondent says.
The military said those jihadists who fled Bama headed for the border with Chad and it had requested the Chadian army to pursue them.
In a separate development, Gen Olukolade tweeted to say Goniri had been regained on Monday.
Nigeria and several of its neighbours recently launched an offensive against the militants.
Officials say Boko Haram no longer controls any urban centres in Yobe and Adamawa – two out of the three worst-affected states in the north-east.
Gen Olukolade also pledged that Borno, the birthplace of Boko Haram, would soon be freed.
Boko Haram at a glance:
- Founded in 2002, initially focused on opposing Western-style education
- Boko Haram means “Western education is forbidden” in the Hausa language
- Launched military operations in 2009 to create an Islamic state
- Thousands killed, mostly in north-eastern Nigeria
- Has also attacked police and UN headquarters in capital, Abuja
- Abducted hundreds, including at least 200 schoolgirls
- Controls several north-eastern towns
- Launched attacks on neighbouring states
Source: BBC Africa