The Nigerian army has opened major roads closed for nearly three years against Boko Haram attacks in Maiduguri, the largest city in the north-east of the country.
The army announced on Saturday that roads linking Maiduguri, capital of Borno state, southwest Damboa, southeast Bama and Mafa, Dikwa and Gamboru Ngala east, are now free to traffic, said General Buratai Tukur, Chief of Staff of the Nigerian army.
At the height of attacks by the Islamist rebels Boko Haram in 2014, Maiduguri, which has about 2.6 million people, including 1.6 million refugees according to the UN, was under the threat of the insurgents.
The roads are safe and those who left can return.
Another road from Biu and Damboa, a regular target of many attacks, was also reopened with a newly formed battalion of soldiers on motorcycles patrolling the roads to ensure safety.
“The roads are safe and those who left can return,” said General Buratai.
Nigerian authorities announced that Boko Haram was “technically” defeated and try to encourage the return of hundreds of thousands who have fled the areas attacked by Islamists.
But the insurgents continue to carry out bombings and attacks, especially in remote rural areas.
The roads were closed in July 2013, severely affecting trade and commerce in the region.
The violence since the beginning of the armed insurgency of Boko Haram in 2009 has left at least 17,000 dead and up to 2.6 million people displaced.