KANO (Reuters) - An explosion struck a street of popular bars and restaurants in the northern Nigerian city of Kano on Sunday, in an area mostly inhabited by southern Christians, police said, and a witness saw at least four dead in the debris.
Kano police spokesman Musa Majiya said it was too early to say if the blast in the Sabon Gari or "foreign quarter" of the North's biggest city had caused any casualties.
But witness Abdul Dafar, who lives a block away, said he saw at least four dead bodies after the explosion.
"I heard a loud blast. And there was a lot of smoke. Soldiers came in to cordon off the place and ambulances were rushing people to hospital," he said.
There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but blame is likely to fall on violent Islamist group Boko Haram, whose struggle against the Nigerian state has killed thousands over the last five years.
The militants also operate in neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad, and President Goodluck Jonathan described them as West Africa's Al-Qaeda on Saturday in Paris, where regional leaders met France's President Francois Hollande to discuss how to tackle the growing threat posed by the group.
The Islamists grabbed world headlines with abduction of more than 200 school girls a month ago from a remote village in the Northeast. Britain, the United States and France have pledged to help rescue them.
Boko Haram has frequently attacked Sabon Gari, whose liquor stores are also a cause of friction with Kano's Islamic police.
(Reporting by Ibrahim Shuaibu and Isaac Abrak; Writing by Tim Cocks; Editing by Bernard Orr and Cynthia Osterman)