Explosions and heavy gunfire echoed Saturday night through a city in northeast Nigeria that's home to a powerful politician, witnesses and officials said, the latest major attack in a region that's home to a radical Muslim sect.
It wasn't immediately clear whether there were any casualties in the attacks that began at 7:30 p.m. local time Saturday in the city of Geidam in Nigeria's Yobe state, which sits near the country's arid border with Niger, authorities said.
State police commissioner Sulaiman Lawal declined to offer any details on the attacks in the hometown of Yobe state Gov. Ibrahim Geidam, who uses the city's name as his last name as is customary for many in Nigeria's Muslim north.
While authorities declined to say whom they suspect in the attack, it mirrors other assaults recently carried out by a radical sect known as Boko Haram. The group has launched a series of attacks against Nigeria's weak central government over the last year in its campaign to implement strict Shariah law across the nation of more than 160 million people.
Boko Haram claimed responsibility for a Nov. 4 attack on Damaturu, Yobe state's capital, that killed more than 100 people. The group also claimed the Aug. 24 suicide car bombing of the UN headquarters in Abuja, Nigeria's capital, that killed 24 people and wounded 116 others.
Little is known about the sources of Boko Haram's support, though its members recently began carrying out a wave of bank robberies in the north. Police stations have also been bombed and officers killed.
Boko Haram has splintered into three factions, with one wing increasingly willing to kill as it maintains contact with terror groups in North Africa and Somalia, diplomats and security sources say.
Recently, Nigerian authorities arrested a member of the country's national assembly and accused him of being involved with the group along with other politicians. However, even politicians with ties to Boko Haram can no longer consider themselves safe.
Politicians in Maiduguri, the city that is Boko Haram's spiritual home, and other places in the northeast now surround themselves with security and live in apparent fear of the sect.