Nigeria’s military has begun the construction of a road into the heartland of Sambisa forest, a stronghold of the Islamist militant group Boko Haram.
The 686 sq km (426 sq mile) forest in the north-east of Borno state is believed to be the hiding place of the insurgents’ leader Abubakar Shekau.
The military authorities say the road will link Sambisa forest with adjoining towns.
Construction work has commenced on the Gwoza-Yamteke-Bitta-Tokumbere stretch of the road, leading directly into the forest.
Army spokesman Maj Sani Kukasheka Usman said the army plans to make the forest a training ground for soldiers.
The report of the road construction came a day after authorities in Borno state announced the closure of several roads as part of an intensified military operation against the Islamist militants.
The army said the roads will be closed until 4 February to enable it to carry out the “clearance operation”.
Despite repeated claims by the military that it has defeated Boko Haram, the militant group has continued to carry out massive attacks with high fatality.
Analysts told BBC the road project could be a way for the army to justify its repeated claims of victory over Boko Haram.
The army released these pictures of the ongoing construction