Residents of Bama, the second biggest town in Borno state, have fled after Boko Haram seized control of the town, the BBC has reported.
The report comes a week after the sect declared Gwoza an Islamic caliphate, although the military swiftly described the claim as “empty”, saying it would soon launch a “major offensive toward ending this madness of insurgency in the northeast of the country”.
The military and the insurgents had been involved in a prolong gun duel that began on Sunday and extended to Monday, at the end of which thousands of civilians and soldiers reportedly fled.
However, the military denied these reports, saying the “swarm of terrorists” were “repelled and dislodged” in an operation also participated in by the air force.
On its Twitter timeline, it quoted a “witness”, Mohammed Ahmed, as saying an attempt by “Boko Haram people” to enter and capture Bama was foiled by the “efforts of the soldiers”.
On Tuesday, residents said Bama, populated by 270,000 people (2006 census), was seized after the militants who arrived in tanks and armoured trucks, initially seized the town’s military barracks.
The soldiers and residents fled on foot, many of them walking all the way to Maiduguri, BBC said.
The fear now is that Maiduguri, the state capital (about 70km away from Bama), could be the next target of the insurgents.
Meanwhile, the military has announced a 7pm to 6am curfew in Maiduguri, “aimed at preventing infiltration into Maiduguri Metropolis by insurgents who suffered Heavy casualties”.