An officer and other witnesses say soldiers killed scores of Islamic extremists in a rare victory as the insurgents advanced on a town near the north-east Nigerian city of Maiduguri.
One officer said a feared Boko Haram commander was among some 200 militants killed in a battle Friday in Konduga town, 22 miles (35km) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state and birthplace of the extremist group.
Boko Haram in recent weeks has taken a string of towns stretching over 200 miles (320km) alongside Nigeria's north-east border with Cameroon in a new campaign to create an Islamic caliphate.
The United States has said it is launching a major border security project for Nigeria.
The Boko Haram gunmen who swept into the township of Gulak brought with them a new message. Rather than sowing afresh the terror they have brought to swathes of north-east Nigeria by opening fire, the jihadists insisted they were here to stay and residents would not be harmed.