He said government forces are also fighting a southward push into neighboring Adamawa state by the group, which recently has departed from its usual hit-and-run tactics and started to seize towns and territory.
The government source, who pleaded not to be named, said Boko Haram fighters had been driven from Bama, 70 kilometers southeast of Maiduguri. Government warplanes have bombed and strafed the militants after they stormed Bama last week.
“Bama has been recaptured by the soldiers and I can confirm to you Maiduguri is safe,” the official in Abuja told Reuters.
A market trader from Bama, Babagana Modu, also confirmed that soldiers were in control of the town, as government planes struck at Boko Haram positions in the surrounding area.
Thousands of civilians have fled the recent offensive by the insurgents, who have killed thousands in the five-year-old insurgency in the northeast.
In addition to the fighting in Borno state, another Boko Haram column over the weekend pushed southward into neighboring Adamawa state, overrunning one town, Gulak, and attacking at least one more, Michika.
Locals reported the raiders were burning Christian churches, police stations and government offices as they went.
Nigeria’s military had deployed reinforcements to Adamawa state to confront this threat, and was setting up roadblocks and positions around Mubi to prevent the militants from advancing further south, the government official in Abuja said.
Many local residents were fleeing to Yola, the Adamawa state capital, or to Gombe city in neighboring Gombe state.
Nigeria has agreed to step up cooperation with Chad and its other neighbors Cameroon and Niger to prevent Boko Haram and other militant groups from moving across their borders. Measures already discussed have included joint border patrols and intelligence sharing