Suspected Boko Haram militants kidnapped between 10 and 20 people, a family member of one of those abducted, a senator and two military sources said.
The people were on a bus from Maiduguri, the city worst hit by Boko Haram, travelling to Gwoza in the east of Borno state, near the border with Cameroon, on Tuesday.
Boko Haram “attacked commercial vehicles and abducted some civilians – over 10 men and women were abducted”, said a military source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorised to brief the media.
Other sources gave the number abducted at around 20.
The abduction calls into question government and military statements that stability and security are returning to the north-east in the conflict with Islamist insurgents Boko Haram, which dates back to 2009.
President Muhammadu Buhari is seeking a second term in February 2019 elections, campaigning in part on his administration’s successes in the north-east.
A police spokesman could not immediately be reached for comment.
Isa Musa said his uncle was among those kidnapped.
“He was in the bus with other passengers, men and women, about 20 of them, when the incident occurred,” he said.
A second military source said Boko Haram stopped three vehicles on the road.
“One of the vehicles was a commercial passenger bus with about 20 passengers,” they said. “The terrorists fired shots and took away some passengers. Women were among them and one of our soldiers was killed in the attack.”
A senator from Borno sate, Ali Ndume, said he was contacted by the wife of a victim about the kidnapping.
European states warned the United Nations more than 800,000 people are cut off from aid and may be starving in north-east Nigeria, in contrast to government assertions the crisis has abated and rebuked the world body for failing to secure access.