Map showing Maiduguri, Nigeria
Map showing Maiduguri, Nigeria

Suspected Boko Haram militants have attacked the northern Nigerian city of Maiduguri, their first major assault on the Borno state capital in two months.

Witnesses say hundreds of militants assaulted an area near the city's Giwa barracks late Wednesday, with guns and heavy explosives. There were also reports that several suicide bombers were among the attackers.

Soldiers repelled the attack after several hours of fighting.  The French news agency, AFP, reports at least three Nigerian soldiers, six vigilante fighters, and dozens of Boko Haram fighters were killed.

The army has imposed a dusk-to-dawn curfew on the city.  Army spokesman Colonel Tanko Gusau said the curfew is intended "to protect lives and property of innocent and law-abiding people of Maiduguri."

Nigeria, along with neighbors Cameroon, Chad, and Niger, recently launched an offensive to end the Boko Haram insurgency, which has claimed more than 10,000 lives and displaced some 1.5 million people in northeastern Nigeria from their homes.

Boko Haram has carried out a campaign of terrorist attacks since 2009 in an attempt to turn northern Nigeria into an Islamic state.