Military authorities in Nigeria claim that hundreds of members of Boko Haram have surrendered. The man posing as the Islamic militant group's leader has reportedly also been killed.
The militants surrendered in Nigeria and Cameroon, Nigerian military officials said Wednesday.
Defense spokesman Chris Olukolade told reporters in the Nigerian capital, Abuja, that a man who had posed in videos as the late Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau had been killed during fighting in the town of Konduga, in Borno state.
Konduga lies just 35 kilometers (22 miles) away from the Boko Haram stronghold of Maiduguri.
The military claims that Shekau was killed in battle last year.
The man who had pretended to be Shekau in the group's videos was identified as Mohammed Bashir, but was said to have several aliases.
"It became apparent that the terrorists … were determined to take over communities around Maiduguri, which is their prime target," the military said in a statement, adding that Boko Haram had made four attempts to take Konduga between September 12 and 17.
Boko Haram has carried out suicide bombings, deadly attacks and seized a string of towns in northern Nigeria during its insurgency. It has also conducted raids on border towns and villages in Cameroon.
In April, the militant group claimed responsibility for the kidnapping of 200 schoolgirls from the remote village of Chibok, prompting international condemnation. They remain missing.
Nigeria's military has come under increasing pressure to curb Boko Haram's insurgency, making efforts in recent weeks to push back against the group in the northeast of the country.
dr/crh (Reuters, AP, dpa, AFP)