At least 50 suspected Boko Haram fighters have been killed in a military raid in Borno state, the Nigerian army has said.

The army said on Sunday that security forces raided a hideout of suspected Boko Haram members in the Kawuri village, about 37km from the state capital Maiduguri, on Saturday.

The suspected fighters were planning an imminent attack, the military said.

Heavy artillery, including anti-aircraft, and an armoured vehicle were seized in the raid. Three soldiers were injured in the operation.

Al Jazeera's Rawya Rageh, reporting from Abuja, said the raid comes at a time when the Nigerian military desperately needs positive news in its war against Boko Haram.

"The Nigerian army appears to be eager to give the public - and the international community - any positive news when it comes to its ongoing confrontation with Boko Haram.

"It would appear that this raid on Kawuri is part of an intensified push over the past two days to yield results and give the public and the international community something in the face of mounting criticism and concerns," our correspondent said. 

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Boko Haram, a movement whose name roughly means "Western education is forbidden", has killed thousands since launching an uprising in 2009 to establish an Islamic state in religiously mixed Nigeria. They are by far the main security threat to the country.

More than 700,000 people have been displaced externally and internally by the conflict, the United Nations refugee agency UNHCR says.

The Associated Press reported on Sunday that fighters from Boko Haram seized more towns along Nigeria's northeastern border with Cameroon. They were adopting a new strategy of encouraging civilians to stay, witnesses told the news agency.

"They assured us that they will not attack us, but people begun to run for their lives, some of us have fled for fear
that, after subduing the soldiers, the insurgents will turn their [gun] barrels on us,'' Michael Kirshinga, a resident in Gulak, said after the town was attacked.

Nigerian soldiers reportedly fled when hundreds of fighters in stolen military armoured personnel carriers, trucks and motorcycles invaded Gulak, the administrative headquarters of Adamawa state,

"In recent weeks Boko Haram has been seizing territory in Borno, pushing people out of villages and displacing thousands," our correspondent said.

The most recent battle took place in Bama, about 70km away from Maiduguri, where the army's 7th Division is based.

There had been mounting concerns that Maiduguri could be next on Boko Haram's list - something that would constitute a major blow to the security forces and government.

More than 100 Nigerian soldiers abandoned the battle for Bama and fled across the border into Cameroon, a Western
worker there told AP.

Nigeria has an army of about 80,000 troops with a budget of $2.3bn but demoralised soldiers say they are outgunned by Boko Haram, and that some of their colleagues are colluding with and even fighting for the fighters.

Endemic corruption has officers stealing some of the pay of the rank and file, who complain they are dumped in remote areas and ordered to fight without food or water despite blistering temperatures.

Boko Haram now holds a string of towns in all three of the northeastern states that have been under a military emergency since May 2014.

Source: Al Jazeera and agencies