MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - Hundreds of Islamic militants in trucks and a stolen armored personnel carrier attacked an air force base and international airport on the outskirts of a Nigerian city before dawn Monday, officials and witnesses said, possibly leaving scores of people dead in one of the insurgent group's most daring attacks.
Two helicopters and three decommissioned military aircraft were "incapacitated" in the attack, said a statement from Brig. Gen. Chris Olukolade, the Ministry of Defense spokesman. He said some army bases were hit.
Twenty-four insurgents were killed and many were wounded along with two air force personnel, Olukolade said.
The state government extended a nighttime curfew to 24 hours in Maiduguri, the city near the air base that is also the birthplace of the extremist Boko Haram movement.
The militants also attacked Maiduguri International Airport, the official said. Olukolade said flight operations were temporarily disrupted but have resumed. International flights to Maiduguri stopped months ago, but domestic flights had continued.
Explosions and automatic gunfire could be heard across the northeastern city from around 2:30 a.m. when the insurgents launched the attack with screams of "Allahu akbar," or "God is great."
The fighting continued until about 7 a.m.
Government and military officials said scores of people may be dead. Reporters saw military ambulances ferrying bodies to the hospital morgue.
Civilians living around the military base, which is off a main road, said they saw bodies with slit throats and corpses of insurgents burning in vehicles.
Olukolade said security forces are pursuing the attackers and urged citizens to report any fleeing insurgents who could be identified by gunshot wounds.