Boko Haram Nigeria Gwoza
People from Gwoza, Borno State, displaced by the violence and unrest caused by the insurgency, are pictured at a refugee camp in Mararaba Madagali, Adamawa State. Reuters

Boko Haram militants have killed dozens in an attack on the northeastern Nigerian town of Gwoza, according to residents.

"Dozens of our people have been killed by the attackers, some were slaughtered and many others shot with guns," resident James Mshelia said.

The town is situated 135km (83 miles) from Maiduguri, the capital of Borno state, where the Islamist insurgency has frequently conducted attacks.

"There is no military presence in Gwoza now," Halima Jatau, one of the fleeing residents, told AFP news agency.

"And from all indications, our emir is also missing because we don't know his whereabouts," she said.

Residents also claimed that the assailants had burnt down the regional police headquarters and local government buildings.

Former vice chairman of Gwoza's local government Francis Mbala said: "They have scared hundreds of residents to flee to the mountains along the Nigeria and Cameroon borders."

The attack comes after the capture of Damboa, another town in the Borno area.

Three states - Borno, Yobe and Adamawa - have been under a state of emergency since May last year as the group's insurgency continues to blight the country's northern regions.

The group, which wants to create an Islamic caliphate within Nigeria, kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls in April in the village of Chibok, bringing global attention to the west African nation's fight against terrorism.