Abuja: Over 40 persons including six security personnel were on Thursday killed in a gun battle between soldiers and insurgents in Damaturu town, the capital of Nigeria`s northern state of Yobe, police said.
State Police spokesman Patrick Egbuniwe told a news agency on phone that 34 of those who were killed were suspected members of the Islamic fundamentalist sect, Boko Haram.
Four policemen and two soldiers were also among the dead in the sustained exchanges of gunfire that followed an attack started by members on government house.
A resident of the city said casualty figure could be higher because the streets were littered with bodies which he could not ascertain whether they were insurgents or civilians.
The state government imposed a 24-hour curfew making it impossible for anyone to go outdoors. Civilians faced acute scarcity of food and water after being trapped indoors.
Boko Haram, a radical sect has been waging war to install an Islamic government and Sharia rule in Africa`s largest oil producer.
The group`s insurgency has been growing in Nigeria and an attack in the northern city of Kano with multiple bombings and gun shots killed no fewer than 185 persons on January 20.
A suicide bomb attack by the group at the United Nations headquarters in Abuja in July last year killed 26 persons.
The 150-million Nigeria has both Muslim and Christian population, with Muslims predominant in the north while Christians mostly live in the South.