The Nigerian army claimed Tuesday that its troops have recaptured Gamboru Ngala, a key town on the border with neighboring Cameroon, from Boko Haram insurgents.
“The Nigerian Army has retaken the economic and strategic town of Gamboru Ngala, Borno State, from the Boko Haram terrorists group today,” military spokesman Col. Sani Kukasheka Usman said in a statement.
“The triumphant troops are now busy with clearing and mopping up patrols.”
There is yet no independent confirmation of the military claim and the official army statement did not give further details on the recapture of the strategic town.
In August last year, Boko Haram Islamists attacked an army barracks in Gamboru Ngala and captured the town.
They were driven out in February by Chadian troops who crossed into Cameroon and launched a ground offensive on Nigerian soil.
But shortly afterward, Boko Haram fighters recaptured the strategic town and it had remained firmly in their hands ever since.
Residents of Fotokol town on the Cameroon side of the border said a Nigerian fighter jet bombarded Gamboru Monday.
The residents, who live within sight of Fotokol, said the jet encircled Gamboru around 2:00 p.m. (1300 GMT) and dropped six bombs.
“It will not be a surprise if Nigerian troops have retaken Gamboru because yesterday (Monday) a military jet bombarded the town, a resident, Karim Idrissa, told AFP from Fotokol.
He said residents “have a limited view of the town (Gamboru) from here.”
Gamboru and Fotokol are separated by a long bridge.
Attacks by Boko Haram, which seeks to impose a strict Islamic system in northern Nigeria, have killed at least 15,000 people and displaced 1.5 million since 2009.
Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, who came into office on May 29, has made the fight against insurgency a priority of his administration.
He recently set a three-month deadline for troops to subdue the insurgents, who have ravaged swaths of the country’s northeast.
An 8,700-strong joint force — which includes support from Nigeria, Niger, Chad, Cameroon and Benin — is expected to deploy against the insurgents soon.