Scores of Boko Haram militant gunmen reportedly waged a predawn attack Sunday on a key city of Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria, engaging in a fierce battle with troops on the outskirts of the city, forcing residents to flee from their homes, according to the military, residents and other sources, CNN reports.
The Islamic extremists reportedly attacked the nearby village of Jintilo around 5 a.m. and were locked in a bloody gun battle with troops positioned there, the report says. The village is about 3 miles from the center of Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, the news outlet writes.
The militants reportedly launched a simultaneous attack on the town of Monguno, about 75 miles from Jintilo, the report says.
"Troops are repelling a simultaneous attack on Monguno and Maiduguri by terrorists," the Defense Ministry said on Twitter, according to the report.
The fighting in Jintilo forced residents to flee their homes and run into the city, while military officials imposed a round-the-clock curfew to block the militant insurgents, the report says.
"All the residents of neighborhoods near Jintilo have fled into the city due to the ongoing battle between troops and Boko Haram gunmen who want to enter the city," Modu Zannari, who lives nearby, tell CNN.
In his second visit in two weeks, BBC News reports that Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan visited Maiduguri on Saturday as part of his election campaign for polls in February. Before these trips, his last visit had been in March 2013.
During a visit earlier this month, the news outlet writes, Jonathan assured about 5,000 refugees who had fled recent Boko Haram violence that they would soon be able to return to their homes.
His latest visit came after Amnesty International released satellite images of towns attacked by Boko Haram, showing damage to an estimated 3,700 structures damaged or destroyed in Baga and neighboring Doron Baga at the beginning of the year, the human rights group tells BBC News.
Nigeria's government has disputed reports that as many as 2,000 people were killed, putting the toll at nearer 150, the report says.
Separately, BBC News reports that U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry has arrived in Lagos for talks with Jonathan and the main opposition's presidential candidate, former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari.