Two people were killed and 25 others kidnapped in a Boko Haram ambush on a civilian convoy in remote northeast Nigeria, security sources and a local resident said on Thursday.
The attack on vehicles under military escort happened at around 3:00 pm (1400 GMT) on Tuesday near the town of Gwoza, in Borno state, and led to a brief shoot-out.
“A soldier and a civilian were killed in the ambush and a bus carrying around 25 people was taken away,” civilian militia leader Ibrahim Liman told AFP.
The attack was believed to have been carried out by fighters from the Boko Haram faction led by Abubakar Shekau, which is based in and around the Sambisa Forest enclave near Gwoza.
In August 2014, the jihadists proclaimed Gwoza as the headquarters of its self-styled caliphate.
The convoy was heading from the town to the Borno state capital, Maiduguri, at the time. A military source in the city confirmed the incident.
“We lost a soldier and a civilian in the attack,” added the officer, who asked not to be identified as he was not authorised to speak to the media.
“We are not sure of the exact number of the abducted passengers but they are more than 20.”
Gideon Buba, who lives in Maiduguri but is from Gwoza, said his priest was on the convoy that was attacked.
“He told us that the bus behind his was the one taken,” he added.
“The gunmen opened fire in the middle of the convoy but the vehicles managed to escape.
“Some made it through while others returned, but one was seized by the gunmen who took it inside the forest.”
At the peak of Boko Haram violence in northeast Nigeria in 2014, the military shut down the 128-kilometre (80-mile) Maiduguri-Gwoza highway because of a spate of attacks.
The highway has since been reopened following an extensive regional fightback by Nigerian troops and those from neighbouring Chad, Niger and Cameroon.
The counter-insurgency has substantially weakened Boko Haram.
But despite the reopening of the road, civilian convoys need military escorts to plie the route because of sporadic Boko Haram attacks.