At least four people were killed when Boko Haram suicide bombers attacked northeast Nigeria’s biggest city, the emergency services said on Friday, as residents returned home.

Violence broke out on the outskirts of Maiduguri on Thursday night, with indications the jihadists were attempting to reach the city’s Giwa Barracks, where suspected militants are held.

“There were innocent citizens, four of them, who died. Very few people were injured and none of them seriously,” said Bashir Garga, from the National Emergency Management Agency.

Five suicide bombers also died trying to detonate their explosives, he added.

The Borno state police gave a lower death toll of two, including a member of the civilian militia assisting the military with security against Boko Haram.

“The victims and corpses have been evacuated to the state specialist hospital in Maiduguri,” said police chief Damian Chukwu.

“Normalcy has been restored in the area.”

Thursday’s attack, which was repelled with the arrival of troop reinforcements and air support, was a rare urban incursion by Boko Haram.

Nigeria maintains the Islamic State group affiliate is a spent force but the raid again raises questions about that claim and security in Maiduguri’s outer suburbs.

People fled from the Jiddari Polo area, which has been repeatedly hit in recent years, as the insurgents fired automatic weapons and rocket-propelled grenades at troops.

The police said the attack was repelled “after a fierce gun battle” and firing of tear gas. Two officers were injured while seven others were also wounded, he added.

Intelligence reports seen by AFP on Friday suggested more than 100 Islamist insurgents may have been involved in the attack.

Boko Haram fighters were pushed back to the Alidawari area on the outskirts of Maiduguri. Air strikes killed an unspecified number of jihadists as they fled, it added.

At least one member of the security forces was killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives near a military vehicle, the report added.

Search and clearance operations resumed at first light, when civilians who had escaped the attack began to return to their homes, it said.

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