Boko haram extremists attack Damboa
The extremists attacked the village and set homes ablaze in the early hours of Friday YouTube

Hundreds of Nigerian soldiers have fled the Islamist terror group Boko Haram and crossed the Nigerian border into neighbouring Cameroon, local police have said.

The group attacked the border town of Gamboru Ngala causing thousands of inhabitants to escape across the border, joined by approximately 500 soldiers.

"They fled because they feared an attack by Boko Haram," said a police officer. "They arrived with all their weapons."

However, the Nigerian military has refuted the claims, insisting that its troops had only "found themselves on Cameroon's soil" as opposed to fleeing their posts while clashes with the group continued.

The Nigerian defence ministry also denied the charges with a spokesman saying: "A sustained battle saw the Nigerian troops charging through the borders in a tactical manoeuvre."

Didier Badjek, a spokesman for the Cameroonian army, said the fleeing soldiers were disarmed and allowed to stay at schools in the city of Maroua, 50 miles from the Nigerian border.

After its capture of the town of Gwoza in Borno State, the group announced the creation of an 'Islamic State' in the country's northeastern regions.

In a published propaganda video, the group's leader Abubakar Shekau claimed the regions now had "nothing to do with Nigeria".

Three states - Borno, Yobe and Adamawa - have been under a state of emergency since May 2013 as the insurgency continues to blight Jonathan Goodluck's administration.

Attacks attributed to the group have occurred in northern cities such as Maiduguri and Kano but their reach has started to expand southwards, with bomb blasts striking the Middle Belt cities of Jos and the capital Abuja.

Earlier this year, the group kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in the village of Chibok, bringing global attention to the west African nation's fight against terrorism.

According to Human Rights Watch, Boko Haram has killed at least 2,053 people since the beginning of 2014.