At least three soldiers and some travellers were killed on Sunday when gunmen believed to be Boko Haram insurgents attacked a military detachment stationed at Lawan-Mainari village on Maiduguri-Damaturu highway.
Travelling the 135km Maiduguri-Damaturu highway, which passes through Jakana town, is considered extremely dangerous if such a journey is done before 9 am or after 2 pm when the route is busy.
Sources said the insurgents stormed the area around 7 am with machine guns and rocket-propelled grenades but were repelled by the soldiers who engaged them in a shootout.
Travellers were reportedly stranded along the highway for several hours while the troops engaged the group in a gun battle.
“They exchanged fire for some time as many of us remained in the vehicles, ducking to avoid being hit by bullets.
“When the shooting stopped and the Boko Haram fighters left, three soldiers, four Boko Haram members and some passengers were killed with other members of the dreaded group retreating into the bushes,” a source said.
Boko Haram and its offshoot, Islamic State West Africa Province, have killed thousands and displaced millions in North-Eastern Nigeria.
The Nigerian military has repeatedly claimed that the insurgency had been largely defeated and frequently underplays any losses.
In the past months, soldiers have been targeted by the insurgents, laying in ambush on their paths.
Hundreds of soldiers and officers have been reportedly killed since January 2021.