Maiduguri Boko Haram attack
Members of civilian force patrol in Maiduguri, which has been targeted many times by Boko Haram militants in recent yearsReuters

The death toll from an attack by Islamist rebels on a northeastern Nigerian city has passed 100, local reporters have said.

Boko Haram militants launched an assault on Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria, on Sunday, as US Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in the capital, Lagos, to discuss counter-terrorism and other issues with the Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan.

Government troops in the city of more than one million were attacked on three fronts but managed to repel the assailants after a day of heavy fighting, military officials said.

More than 100 bodies were lined up at the city's biggest morgue local reporter Bello Dukku told Reuters on Monday.

The dead were mostly insurgents, with the journalist counting also at least 15 soldiers and a few civilians.

Maiduguri has been attacked many times in Nigeria's five-year Islamic insurgency that killed 10,000 people last year alone.

Over the weekend, Boko Haram militants also carried out deadly raids on villages some 125 miles to the south in Adamawa state, burning houses and abducting dozens of women and children, survivors said.