Nigerian soldiers backed by fighter jets on Tuesday recaptured a town in the restive northeast seized last week by jihadists after they overran a military base, the army said.
Troops had recovered the town of Marte and “adjoining communities” in the Lake Chad region from jihadists, after intense fighting, the army said.
“The troops backed by air cover… successfully charged through Marte town, destroying several Improvised Explosive Device (IEDs) and landmines laced across their route,” said the statement.
Government troops were in “total control” of the area and had killed “scores” of jihadists during the gun battle, the army added.
On February 15, fighters from the IS-aligned Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) seized the town after overrunning a base there, killing eight soldiers, military sources said.
On Sunday, the army chief gave troops a 48-hour ultimatum to recover Marte during a visit to troops fighting the jihadists in the northeast.
Hundreds of Marte residents had been trapped since ISWAP seized the town, security sources told AFP.
In November last year, thousands of people returned to their homes in Marte, having fled the town in 2014 because of the insecurity.
They were responding to calls from the local authorities to return home and rebuild their lives despite safety concerns from aid agencies. The authorities have been encouraging people displaced by the jihadist violence to go back to their homes, saying the camps were no longer sustainable.
The jihadist uprising which started in 2009, has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes in Nigeria’s northeast.