Five suspected Islamist militants were killed when bombs they were assembling exploded during a shootout with government troops in northern Nigeria, a military commander said Monday.

“I can confirm that five suspected members of Boko Haram were on Saturday night blown to pieces by Improvised Explosive Devices,” they were assembling, Colonel Victor Ebhaleme told AFP news agency.

Ebhaleme said the bombs were being assembled for attacks planned for the flashpoint city of Maiduguri, the epicentre of an increasingly bloody insurgency that has left more than 1,000 people dead since mid-2009.

He said the joint military task force deployed to the region to stem the violence had surrounded the hideout and “engaged the suspects in a shootout”.

Ebhaleme said the insurgents had thrown a bomb at the soldiers when the other bombs inside the house went off “killing the five suspects and destroying the house”.

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