Jihadists linked to the Islamic State group killed six people Saturday in an assault on Monguno, a strategic garrison town in Borno, security sources and residents said.
Dozens of fighters believed to be from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) faction clashed with soldiers and members of a government-backed militia after attacking Monguno near Lake Chad.
“Two soldiers, a member of a local self-defence group and three civilians were killed in the attack which lasted two hours,” anti-jihadist militia fighter Bukar Ari told AFP.
The attackers stormed into the town from two directions, firing heavy guns and rocket-propelled grenades as they overran several troop positions, residents said.
The jihadists released inmates from a police station before setting the building and other government offices and shops ablaze, residents added.
“They fired rocket-propelled grenades indiscriminately which fell on homes, killing three people and injuring many others,” resident Kulo Gana told AFP.
“I saw the bodies of the two soldiers and the militia member on the streets after the fighting.”
The sources said the Islamists were eventually pushed out of the town after military jets launched air strikes.
ISWAP and rival jihadist group Boko Haram have repeatedly tried to overrun Monguno, 135 kilometres (80 miles) from the regional capital Maiduguri.
The town is home to a sprawling camp housing tens of thousands of people displaced by the decade-long Islamist insurgency in northeast Nigeria.
Fighters in January killed 11 people in an attack on the town involving suicide bombers.
ISWAP — which split from Boko Haram in 2016 — has in recent months ramped up attacks in the northeast, targeting troops and abducting civilians.
Jihadists from ISWAP on Tuesday massacred 81 people in a village in Gubio district, 90 kilometres away from the scene of the latest attack.
The 10-year conflict in the region has killed 36,000 people and displaced around two million from their homes, according to the United Nations.
The violence has spilt into neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting a regional military coalition to fight the jihadist groups.