MAIDUGURI, Nigeria - Nigeria's military killed 24 members of the Boko Haram in a gun fight in the remote northeast town of Maiduguri where the Islamist sect has been based during a three-year long insurgency, the army said on Tuesday.

Boko Haram wants to carve an Islamic state out of Nigeria and remains the top security threat to Africa's leading oil producer. Western powers are worried about its growing links to more fiercely anti-Western jihadist groups in the region.

At least 2,800 people have died in fighting since the insurrection began, Human Rights Watch (HRW) said. A recent crackdown by the military has brought a lull in the more coordinated and deadly attacks seen early this year.

"Twenty-four Boko Haram members have been killed by security operatives of the Joint Task Force (JTF) in Gwange, Zannari and London Ciki wards of Maiduguri on Monday night," spokesman of the JTF Sagir Musa said in a press release.

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