The Nigerian army said it has recaptured and secured the northeastern town of Chibok, where Boko Haram rebels kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April.

Al Jazeera's Ahmed Idris, reporting from Abuja, said a local official and local vigilantes who participated in the operation confirmed to him the town was re-taken on Saturday evening.

"They said that at the moment Boko Haram fighters are out of the town, but they don't think it is very safe to have people back there immediately, because they don't know what exactly is going to happen there next.

"I spoke to one of the residents and he told me that hunters are in town patrolling.

"He is also particularly talking about the condition of thousands of refugees who fled Chibok and moved to the garisson town of Damboa, and how people are so traumatised after the events of April," Idris said.

Boko Haram had captured the town on Thursday after a battle lasting several hours. Several inhabitants said the army had fled the assault on Thursday, leaving the vigilantes to fight on their own.

Control of Chibok is crucial to the reputation of the army and the government, both of which have come under harsh criticism for their failure to rescue the schoolgirls.

The rebels stormed the Government Girls Secondary School in Chibok on the evening of April 14 and forced 276 students onto trucks in a mass abduction that caused global outrage. Fifty-seven managed to escape.

The rebellion by Boko Haram, which wants to create an Islamic state in mainly Muslim northern Nigeria, has claimed more than 10,000 lives in the past five years.

They have seized more than 20 towns and villages in the northeast in recent months.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies