“This place was like a war zone last night. There is no single policeman on the street now, the attacks destroyed mosques and churches, I have seen many injured persons in the hospital,” said a local man.
Suspected Boko Haram gunmen raided the city and the nearby village of Potiskum, engaging in several hours of running gun battles with security forces.
The attacks followed multiple bomb blasts in nearby Maiduguri, making Friday one of the worst days of violence in the north east since the Islamist sect launched an insurgency against Nigerian authorities in 2009.
An official with the Nigerian Red Cross says at least 63 people were killed.
Ibrahim Bulama said it appeared many of the dead died in the bombing of a three-storey military office and barracks in Damaturu, the state capital. He says others died in shootings as gunmen bombed churches and a bank.
The Boko Haram group says it wants sharia law more widely imposed across Nigeria. It draws much of its support from unemployed youths in the remote, economically deprived north.