Lagos: Suspected Boko Haram Islamists armed with explosives attacked a town in Nigeria`s troubled northeast on Wednesday, sparking a battle with soldiers that killed a large number of insurgents, the military said.
Defence spokesman Chris Olukolade told AFP that the early morning attack in the town of Bama may have also included multiple suicide blasts.
Bama is about 60 kilometres (37 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, which is the stronghold of the Islamist rebels who have killed thousands during a four-and-half year insurgency.
"The attackers came from various locations," Olukolade said. "We believe that there were suicide bombers among them. They used bombs during the operation (and) attacked one of our tanks."
He said "many" of the attackers were killed when troops repelled the raid, but could not offer a specific figure or comment on casualties among civilians or the security forces.
The mobile phone network in Borno is patchy and calls to Bama area residents were not going through on Wednesday.
A police spokesman said details about the attack had been difficult to obtain because of the poor phone network.
Boko Haram says it is fighting to create a strict Islamic state in the mainly Muslim north of oil-rich Nigeria, Africa`s most populous country.
The group has since 2009 carried out attacks across the north and centre of the country, but the violence has in recent months been concentrated in the northeast, the region where Boko Haram was founded more than a decade ago.
More than 200 people have been killed in 2014 in Borno state alone.
In the village of Izghe on Saturday suspected Boko Haram gunmen went door-to-door, dragging residents outside before slaughtering them.