Jihadists have killed six Nigerian troops in an attack on a military base in northeast Nigeria, army sources said Sunday.
Fighters from the Islamic State West Africa Province (ISWAP) in trucks fitted with machine guns attacked the base in Auno, a village that is 25 kilometres (15 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, they said.
“We lost six soldiers in the attacks which the terrorists launched around 6:30 pm (1730 GMT), on Saturday, a military officer told AFP.
Jihadists overwhelmed the troops during the two-hour battle, “forcing them to withdraw in disarray,” said a another military source who gave a similar toll.
The insurgents then looted weapons and burnt buildings before they were pushed out with aerial support, the sources said.
“A search is ongoing for 45 soldiers who are still unaccounted for but we assume they escaped in the fighting and are yet to return,” the second source said.
Auno lies on a 120-kilometre highway linking Maiduguri and Damaturu in neighbouring Yobe state.
The area has been repeatedly targeted by militants who attack troops and abduct motorists at bogus checkpoints.
ISWAP, which split from Boko Haram in 2016, focuses on attacking the military but it has also been accused of increasingly targeting civilians.
In February, the jihadists killed at least 30 travellers who had stopped for the night in Auno during a night time curfew.
The decade-long conflict has killed 36,000 people and displaced 1.8 million from their homes in northeast Nigeria.
The violence has also spread to neighbouring Niger, Chad and Cameroon, prompting the creation of a regional military coalition to fight the insurgents.