February 22, 2012 / 8:08 AM / 8 years ago

Gunshots, explosions heard in Nigeria's Kano

KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - Gunshots and explosions rang out early Wednesday in Nigeria’s biggest northern city Kano, local residents said, in a region beset by violence by Islamist sect Boko Haram.

Clashes between Boko Haram gunmen and security forces have flared up several times in Kano since the sect killed 178 people in Nigeria’s second largest city last month, in its deadliest attack so far.

“We were stopped from coming out for our early morning prayers, we couldn’t leave the house. About 5am (0400 GMT) the gunshots and explosions started and they haven’t stopped,” Stephen Ahmed, a local Kano resident, told Reuters by phone.

A police spokesman declined to give comment and the army was not contactable.

Boko Haram, which wants sharia law more widely applied across Africa’s most populous nation, claimed responsibility on Tuesday for attacks in its home base in the northeast town of Maiduguri this week, which killed at least 8 people.

The sect has become increasingly sophisticated and deadly in its methods in the last six months. It often sets off multiple bombs in succession or follows them up with shooting sprees.

Reporting by Mike Oboh; Writing by Joe Brock

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