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Boko Haram retakes strategic northeastern Nigerian town

Extremist group Boko Haram has retaken a town in northeastern Nigeria, which had been liberated in February. It's a loss to government troops fighting to push the fighters out of the area.

The state deputy governor of Borno confirmed the militant group had taken back the town of Marte.

"It is sad as we have been made to understand that Marte is today completely fallen under the control of the insurgents, which to us is a very huge set back," Zannah Umar Mustapha said.

The town sits on a strategic trading route between Nigeria, Cameroon and Chad, and has been in and out of jihadist control several times since 2013.

Militants also attacked the village of Kojiti in neighboring Adamawa state, killing seven people.

Both areas had been cleared of the Islamist insurgents in late February.

The incident comes after strikes earlier in the week on the state capital Maiduguri, in which at least 12 people died.

Last year alone, Boko Haram captured a territory larger than Belgium, killing thousands and displacing more than a million people.

It has been fighting to establish an Islamist state for the past six years.

Troops from

Nigeria, Chad and Niger have been working together since February

to push back against the extremists out of many areas.

The Sambisa forest, around 60 kilometers (37 miles) from Maiduguri, is believed to be their remaining stronghold.

Mustapha said it was disappointing to see their hard work go to waste.

"Our thinking was that every other place should have been blocked so that the insurgency would be curtailed to a restricted area," he said.

"But that has not been the case because the insurgents have been fleeing to other communities."

Boko Haram militants have retaliated, and pledged their allegiance to the radical group Islamic State.

Almost 500 women and girls have been

rescued from Boko Haram by Nigerian troops

in the past month.

an/bw (AFP, Reuters)

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