Abuja, March 15 (IANS) At least 212 people lost their lives in a gunfight between rebels and military personnel in Nigeria on Friday, the media reported.
Sources said at least five soldiers, among them a woman, were killed in the six-hour long attack in Maiduguri, capital of Nigeria's northeastern state of Borno, Xinhua reported citing local media.
The Boko Haram, a jihadi group, was suspected to be behind the attack. Sources said it was trying to free some of its fighters in military detention.
Members of the civilian Joint Task Force counted at least 207 corpses of suspected Boko Haram members, the reports said.
Boko Haram fighters dressed in military uniforms and stormed the area in vehicles painted in military colours as they attacked a military cantonment and freed some of their members, said Mallam Abdullahi Dere, a leader of the civilian group.
Reports said civilians caught many of the Boko Haram fighters during the onslaught and handed them over to the military. Those who tried to fight back were lynched, according to a member of the youth volunteer force, Isa Maikati.
On Friday, a local resident identified as Aliyu Gambo told Xinhua that the attack might be a reprisal for the current clampdown on the sect by the Nigerian military who raided the Sambisa Forest and other hideouts of the insurgents.
Borno State, where the sect's headquarters is located, is currently under emergency rule with Adamawa and Yobe, two other northeastern states, which have also suffered deadly attacks by the Boko Haram.