ABUJA, Nigeria (AP) — As Nigeria's insurgency becomes more violent, political and far-reaching, Nigerian forces are increasing security ahead Eid al-Fitr, the Muslim celebration marking the end of Ramadan, according to Emmanuel Okeh, a spokesman for the Nigeria Security and Civil Defence Corps.
Heightened security measures are due to "tensions that sometimes worsen during festivities," Okeh said in a statement on Friday.
Nigeria is deploying 50,000 troops and counterterrorism units, including special forces, a nuclear, biological chemical and radioactive squad and "sniffer dogs," he added. Troops will be patrolling gathering places, highways and "black spots" where criminals hide out, said Okeh.
Since Wednesday, at least 57 people have been killed in attacks, including a double bombing in the northern city of Kaduna that targeted a former head of state and a prominent moderate Muslim cleric. Both leaders escaped unharmed but at least 44 people were killed and 37 others were injured.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attacks, but they are widely blamed on Boko Haram, the extremist Muslim group that has killed more than 2,000 people this year alone, according to Human Rights Watch.
The growing five-year-old Boko Haram insurgency has become increasingly political ahead of 2015 national elections. Both major parties blame the other for security problems and militant attacks fuel sectarian and political conflicts.
"The assassination attempt once again demonstrated the annihilating danger faced by the Nigerian state," said Shehu Sani, a Nigerian civic activist and politician, in a statement Friday. "The attack, if successful, could have triggered serious civil unrest."
Late Wednesday night, suspected Boko Haram members dressed in camouflage stormed a village in Borno state, killing the traditional leader and 11 others. On Thursday, a busy bus station in Kano, Nigeria's second-largest city, was bombed, killing one person and injuring eight nearby a bus station that was bombed in May, killing 30 people.
Rose Charles, who sells rice and plantain to hungry travelers in Kano bus stations, survived both blasts. She said she saw at least three people killed in the most recent attack. "Thank God I escaped the second blast," she said.
Three states in Nigeria's northeast have been under emergency rule for more than a year, but in this week's violence, all but 12 of the victims were outside the security zones. Since April, Boko Haram has bombed the capital, Abuja three times after two years of relative peace. More than 115 people were killed in bombings of a suburban bus station and a downtown shopping mall.
Three months ago Boko Haram became infamous around the world when it kidnapped more than 200 schoolgirls.
Efforts to stop the insurgency are stymied by "political bickering" as parties play the "blame game," rather than working together to secure northeastern Nigeria, said politician Sani. "The series of campaign and violence is the most imminent and concrete threat to Nigeria's unity, freedom and democracy."