An explosion at a hotel killed three people and wounded 14 others in northeastern Nigeria only days before the state's gubernatorial election, police said Monday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility but the blast came as a radical Muslim sect vowed to keep up its fight.
A second explosion went off Monday morning at a cattle market in the town of Maiduguri, which has long been wracked by violence related to the radical Islamic sect. There were no casualties from that blast, police chief Mike Zuokumor said.
"The enemies of Nigeria are scaring people from coming out to vote," Zuokumor said as election workers prepared for Tuesday's gubernatorial poll. Officials already have delayed governor elections in two other northern states after violence following the April 16 presidential vote left at least 500 dead.
The radical Islamic group known as Boko Haram had released a statement earlier Sunday defending its string of deadly attacks on police and religious leaders in recent months.
"All the people that we are killing, including ward heads, politicians, the police and the army have erred, because they are associating themselves with the government in its effort to arrest our Muslim brothers and sabotage Islam," the group said in its statement released Sunday.
Boko Haram was thought to be vanquished in 2009 after Nigeria's military crushed its mosque into concrete shards, and its leader was arrested and died in police custody. But now, Maiduguri and surrounding villages in Borno state again live in fear of the group.
While the presidential vote sparked deadly riots across northern Nigeria, Borno state has seen little violence directly related to the voting so far this month. The group did, however, claim responsibility earlier this year for killing Modu Fannami Gubio, the Borno state candidate of the All Nigeria People's Party.
Boko Haram, whose name in the local Hausa language means "Western education is sacrilege" has campaigned for the implementation of strict Shariah law.
Nigeria, a nation of 150 million people, is divided between the Christian-dominated south and the Muslim north. A dozen states across Nigeria's north already have Shariah law in place, though the area remains under the control of secular state governments.
Muslim opposition supporters began rioting as results from the election showed Christian President Goodluck Jonathan had won. Many northerners felt the next president should have been from their region because a Muslim president died last year before he could complete his term. Retaliatory violence by Christians soon followed, and officials say more than 40,000 people have now fled their homes.