MAIDUGURI Nigeria (Reuters) - Islamist Boko Haram insurgents have overrun much of a north-eastern Nigerian town after hours of fighting that has killed scores and displaced thousands of residents, several security sources said on Tuesday. The Islamists launched an attack on the town of Bama, 70 kilometres (45 miles) from the Borno state capital of Maiduguri, on Monday. They were initially repelled but came back in greater numbers overnight, the sources and witnesses said.
Iraqi forces regained control on Tuesday of part of a key highway linking Baghdad to the north where Amnesty International said jihadists had carried out a wave of ethnic cleansing. Iraqi troops backed by militia have been pushing north after breaking a months-long jihadist siege by Islamic State fighters of the Shiite Turkmen town of Amerli. Visiting the town on Monday, outgoing prime minister Nuri al-Maliki vowed that the army would turn Iraq into a "graveyard" for IS. A senior UN human rights official said the jihadist group had carried out "acts of inhumanity on an unimaginable scale," since it swept through much of the Sunni Arab heartland north of Baghdad in June and then stormed minority Christian and Yazidi Kurdish areas last month.