MAIDUGURI, NIGERIA, Oct. 1 (Xinhua) -- Heavy casualties were feared Monday morning when an explosion and ceaseless shootings hit a military outpost in Maiduguri, capital of the northeast Borno State in Nigeria amid the west African nation's 52nd national day celebration, according to military sources.
A top military officer in the restive Nigerian city told Xinhua in a telephone chat that the sporadic gunshots commenced after explosives were thrown at the military outpost near a popular hotel located in Lagos Street in the metropolis.
"The shootings were to scare-off the criminals who master- minded the explosion. I cannot confirm the number of casualties for now but our officers are still combing the area to fish out the bombers," said the military source who spoke on condition of anonymity.
Another military official who declined to be mentioned said more officers had been deployed to the restive zone to cordon-off the area, adding that the Joint Task Force (JTF) commander would address the media on the incident.
A resident in the area Tade Aromokun said he saw military ambulances and patrol vans moving about in the area, thereby fueling the speculation that some security officials were among the casualties of the Monday morning explosion.
"We heard the explosion and shootings a few minutes after we had watched the national day broadcast on national TV by the president," Aromokun added.
The Monday explosion occurred barely 24 hours after two suspected terrorists were killed in central north Kaduna State on Sunday, following an explosion near an Islamic boarding school.
No group has claimed responsibility for the explosion, but there are indications that the bombing was carried out by the Boko Haram sect usually responsible for violent attacks in the northern part and central parts of Nigeria, according to military officials.