After days of intense fighting, Nigerian troops Monday afternoon finally flushed out Boko Haram militants from Bama in Borno State, defence authorities have said.
Bama, the second largest Local Government Area in Borno, fell to Boko Haram on September 11, 2014.
Some residents, mostly women and children who tried to flee the area at the time were reported to have died of thirst and hunger as insurgents tightened their grip on the town.
Some men of the town were beheaded, residents say.
Bama was one of two most important towns held by Boko Haram for months.
The other, Gwoza, is now the only town under the control of Boko Haram, a violent jihadist group that has slaughtered more than 15,000 people since 2009.
Boko Haram uses Gwoza as its headquarters.
The victory over Bama came as part of a string of successes recorded by the Nigerian military in the last one month, after struggling for years to contain the deadly sect.
Ahead of elections March 28, the military has rallied its ranks and collaborated more with neighbouring countries to dismantle the sect.
Last week, the military cleared Adamawa of Boko Haram and Monday, did the same for Yobe State, leaving Borno as the only state with some little presence of the group.
The Bama advance started March 6, our sources said, and was slowed largely because Boko Haram militants had destroyed bridges linking the town to other communities.
They said the military spent time constructing a make-shift passage to the town.
The operation, we understand, was led by a Major of the Nigerian Army, who also led past tank operations to recapture Baga, Monguno and Michika.
The military had on February 23 launched intense airstrikes on Gwoza, Bama and Sambisa forest after retaking Monguno, Baga and other towns.
“In furtherance of the mission to clear terrorists from all their enclaves by the military, the Nigerian Air Force has stepped up its air bombardment of identified targets in Gwoza, Bama and Sambisa forest, preparatory to other phases of the mission,” a statement by defence spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, had said at the time.
Borno state, where Bama is located, is now one out of three states which still have terrorists operating in their territories.
The military says Yobe and Adamawa states have been liberated, with residents said to be already returning to Adamawa.