Hundreds of civilians are fleeing Maiduguri, the capital of Borno State, as fears grow that Boko Haram is moving close to the city, Reuters reports.
Boko Haram fighters, using captured military vehicles and weapons, have taken towns and villages to the north, east and south of Maiduguri in the last few weeks.
With the city encircled, residents fear it would be the next port of call for the insurgents who captured Bama, 70 kilometres away, on Monday despite denials by military authorities. Witnesses report a growing humanitarian crisis in the north-east following advancement by Boko Haram.
Nigeria Security Network (NSN) think-tank said the group had made “lightning territorial gains” in recent months, raising fears that the country could disintegrate like Syria and Iraq, where the Islamic State (IS) rebel group has declared a caliphate.
Bodies remain littered on the streets of a northern Nigerian town two days after it was seized by militant Islamists, a lawmaker has told the BBC.
Boko Haram fighters were patrolling the streets of Bama, preventing people from burying the dead, Ahmed Zanna said.
On Wednesday, the state government denied the town had fallen.
Fierce fighting between the Nigerian armed group Boko Haram and security forces have driven more than 26,000 people from the northeastern town of Bama, witnesses and security sources have said.
The National Emergency Management Agency (NEMA) in Borno state said on Wednesday that 26,391 displaced persons had so far been registered.
“The number is growing by the hour,” NEMA spokesman Abdulkadir Ibrahim said.
The government of Borno state, where Bama is located, said it still controlled the town.