AU troops
The Nigerian army is aided by African Union troops and mercenaries in the fight against the insurgents Reuters

Nigerian troops have regained control of the north-eastern town of Bama in Borno state a day after terror group Boko Haram torched dozens of houses there, prompting hundreds to flee.

The recapture of the town, held by the insurgents since last September, was facilitated by the aid of troops from neighbouring countries and the use of new equipment, Reuters quoted the military as saying.

"Nigerian troops have this afternoon routed terrorists from Bama in Borno state. Mopping up operation is ongoing," the Nigerian Defence Headquarters tweeted.

The victory is significant for the government as it comes just two weeks before presidential elections.

Who are Boko Haram?

Boko Haram fights against Western influence in Nigeria and aims to impose its version of Sharia law in the country. The group declared an Islamic caliphate in Gwoza, along the Cameroon border, in August 2014.

Boko Haram has raiding several cities in the north of the country in a bid to take control of more land.

Three states, Adamawa, Borno and Yobe, have been under a state of emergency since May 2013, due to Boko Haram's deadly attacks.

The Nigerian army is being assisted by African Union (AU) soldiers – comprising troops from Niger, Chad, Benin and Cameroon – and hundreds of mercenaries in the fight against the insurgents, who have killed thousands of people in north-eastern Nigeria in recent years.

Since the deployment of AU troops in February, the Nigerian military has regained control of several areas held by the terrorists, whose insurgence started in 2009.

In March, Chad and Niger launched a joint aerial and ground offensive against the militants in key areas in the Niger-Nigeria border region.

The deployment followed President Goodluck Jonathan's decision to postpone presidential elections by six weeks on the grounds of security.

In February, Nigeria announced the fight against the insurgents, who recently pledged allegiance to terror group Islamic State (Isis), was almost over. However, critics have cast doubts on previous claims by the Nigerian government and army that they had reached a truce with the terrorists.