By Rafiu Ajakaye
Boko Haram militants remain in control of Bama in Nigeria's northeast, although efforts to clear them from the city are ongoing, a senior army official has admitted.
Media reports had earlier claimed that the army had recaptured Bama, the second largest city in Nigeria's restive Borno State.
"This is not correct," the army official, requesting anonymity, told The Anadolu Agency on Thursday.
Boko Haram militants captured Bama in mid-2014.
Jubrin Gunda, a spokesman for a local vigilante group, said army troops were currently trying to recover the town.
"They were close to reclaiming Bama on Tuesday, but somehow things went wrong," he told AA.
"They [the army] launched another attack yesterday, and we hope to hear good news soon because Bama is key," said Gunda.
Efforts to speak to Senator Ahmed Zannah, who hails from Bama, were not successful.
Last year, Zannah confirmed to AA that militants had captured the town – following an attack that claimed several lives – and conscripted its able-bodied young men.
The Nigerian army has recently claimed to have liberated several towns and villages from the militants, providing the media with numerous pictures of seized weapons.
It has yet to release any information, however, on Bama or Gwoza, the headquarters of Boko Haram's self-styled "Islamic caliphate."
Nigeria is fighting a six-year Boko Haram insurgency that has claimed tens of thousands of lives and displaced over one million people from the northeastern region, where the militancy has been the most ruthless.
Last year, Boko Haram went from attacking communities and planting bombs to capturing entire towns.
In mid-2014, it declared a self-styled "Islamic caliphate" in areas under its control, with its headquarters in Borno State's town of Gwoza.
But Nigerian troops – joined by troops from Niger, Chad and Cameroon – have recently rolled back the militants' gains, liberating several Boko Haram-held towns and launching frontal attacks on the group's hideouts.
Recently, the militants have resorted to hitting soft targets in crowded places with the use of suicide bombers.Anadolu Agency website contains only a portion of the news stories offered to subscribers in the AA News Broadcasting System (HAS), and in summarized form. Please contact us for subscription options.