This Friday Oct. 31, 2014 image taken from video by Nigeria's Boko Haram terrorist network, the leader of Nigeria's Islamic extremist group Boko Haram, center, has denied agreeing to any cease-fire with the government and said Friday more than 200 kidnapped schoolgirls all have converted to Islam and been married off. (AP Photo)
A near deserted street is photographed as a curfew is placed on people after clashes between Nigerian troops and Islamic extremists, in the city of  Maiduguri, Nigeria,  Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015, In fierce fighting Sunday, Nigerian troops clashed with Islamic extremists who attacked Maiduguri, the biggest city in northeast Nigeria. Dozens of combatants have been killed and wounded, soldiers and hospital workers said.  (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)
A near deserted street is photographed as a curfew is placed on people after clashes between Nigerian troops and Islamic extremists, in the city of Maiduguri, Nigeria, Sunday, Jan. 25, 2015. (AP Photo/Jossy Ola)

MAIGUDURI, Nigeria  (BBC.com)—Nigerian Islamist Boko Haram fighters have attacked the strategically important north-eastern city of Maiduguri, with dozens reported dead.

Earlier on Sunday they captured the north-eastern town of Monguno.

The BBC’s Will Ross in Lagos says that with the insurgents gaining ground, Maiduguri is increasingly at risk.

US Secretary of State John Kerry meanwhile has arrived in Nigeria to call for peaceful elections next month which need to set “a new standard”.

The vote looks set to be the closest since the end of military rule 15 years ago.

Our correspondent says that Mr Kerry is in Nigeria to show solidarity in the fight against Boko Haram, which has increased its attacks in recent days.

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