Gunmen bombed a police station late yesterday in Kano, the police and witnesses said, leading to an hour of gun battles in the city recently plagued by attacks from suspected Boko Haram followers.
Witnesses said gunmen and armed police were in a shoot out for around an hour after the explosion at the police station at Naibawa district in Kano.
"We are scared. The police and Boko Haram members are battling each other and there is gunfire everywhere," resident Usman Ibrahim Bello told Reuters news agency.
Kano state police commissioner Ibrahim Idris confirmed the attack.
"We were able to push them out of the area but they burnt part of the police station," Idris said, quoted by Reuters. "It was a blast that caused damage to the station."
AFP news agency quoted witness Kabiru Maikatako saying: "A large number of gunmen stormed the area at prayer time and opened fire on the police station. The police fired back and a shootout has been going on for the past 30 minutes."
"I am now trapped in my (timber) shed. It is shooting all around and the whole area has been deserted. Only the police and the attackers are shooting at each other," he added.
The shootout took place in the Naibawa motor park, a major bus terminal on the outskirts of the city, not far from where a German engineer was kidnapped by gunmen on Thursday.
"We were saying our evening prayers when shooting broke out around the police station," said local resident Sule Adamu, according to AFP.
"We all dispersed without finishing our prayer and moved indoors while passengers who had left the motor park scampered for safety," he added.
Taxi driver Abbas Saleh said he was preparing for evening prayers "when gunshots filled the air with gunmen attacking the police station and shouting Allahu Akbar."
"I abandoned what I was doing and hurried into a nearby shop. Where I am I can hear gunshots. I don't know whether anybody has been killed or injured," he said.
Yesterday's attack followed the January 20 coordinated gun and bomb attacks in Kano claimed by Boko Haram that killed at least 185 people in the city.
In several recent messages, the group has vowed to strike again.
Most recently, in leaflets distributed around Kano overnight, it warned residents that it would continue to target the city's security services leaflets.
The leaflets, which could not be independently verified as authentic, said that Boko Haram tried to avoid harming civilians.
Earlier yesterday, security forces had deployed heavily around Kano guarding churches and frisking worshippers as they arrived to pray.
Boko Haram has been blamed for the deaths of more than 900 people in roughly 160 separate attacks since July 2009. It has claimed attacks that have killed more than 200 people since the start of 2012.