Nigerian troops have returned to a strategic town on the shores of Lake Chad, military and civilian sources said on Thursday after Boko Haram attacks forced tens of thousands to flee.
Fighters from the self-styled Islamic State West Africa Province overran a naval base and another housing troops from a regional force in and around Baga late last month.
The UN has said more than 30,000 people had since sought refuge in the garrison town of Monguno and the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, as the military prepared a fight-back.
A military officer in Maiduguri said, “Our soldiers entered Baga yesterday evening (Wednesday). They are in total control of the town and the terrorists had fled.
“They entered the town at about 7:00 pm (1800 GMT) after taking control of Kuros-Kauwa, which is 15 kilometres (nearly 10 miles) from the town,” he told AFP.
The development was confirmed by a resident, who like the officer asked not to be identified for security reasons.
“I left Baga at about 5:30 pm and I met a huge military convoy heading to the town from Kuros-Kauwa,” said the local man.
“They entered Baga unchallenged. Boko Haram fighters had not been staying the night in Baga since they learnt soldiers were preparing to launch a massive attack.”
Some buildings, including the homes of local politicians, chiefs and community leaders, were burnt down in Baga and neighbouring Doron Baga.
A hospital, clinic and schools were razed, as was the naval base in Fish Dam, he added.
There was no immediate comment from the army when contacted by AFP.