Nigeria's ongoing battle with Islamic extremists in its northeast remains almost a shadow war, as details from the fighting remain sketchy even after military officials invited journalists to the front lines.

On Thursday, officials drove journalists around in circles in Maiduguri, the birthplace of the nation's Islamic insurgency. People were outside and shops were open. But the scars of the almost three-year insurgency still could be seen from shops burnt by soldiers, a major hotel firebombed and the sandbagged embankments hiding soldiers pointing heavy machine guns at passing traffic.

While the military presents an optimistic view about the gains they've made since Nigeria's president declared a state of emergency May 14 across three states, officials continual refuse to offer any specifics about the ongoing fighting.