By Augustine Madu
KANO, Nigeria (Reuters) - Suspected members of Islamist sect Boko Haram killed five people and lost four of their members in a series of gun battles in Nigeria's second largest city Kano on Sunday, authorities said.
Residents said gunfire and explosions could be heard late on Sunday in the city in Nigeria's mostly-Muslim north.
Kano Police Commissioner Ibrahim Idris told Reuters that suspected members of the sect attempted to attack a mosque near the Bayero university on Sunday evening before police engaged them in a gun battle, where four of the sect were killed.
Earlier, gunmen on motorbikes killed five people in two separate attacks in other areas of Kano, one targeting airforce staff, military spokesman Lt Ikediche Iweha said.
Boko Haram has killed hundreds this year in an insurgency against President Goodluck Jonathan's administration.
The sect wants to carve out an Islamic state within Africa's largest oil exporter, a country of more than 160 million people split roughly equally between Muslims and Christians.
In January, Boko Haram killed 186 people in a wave of coordinated bomb and gun attacks in Kano, its deadliest strikes to date. There have been several attacks in the city since.
The majority of Boko Haram's attacks take place in Borno state, hundreds of miles east of Kano in the far northeast corner of Africa's most populous nation, where the sect had its first major uprising in 2009.
Two Boko Haram members were killed and 26 arrested on Friday in an operation to trap a faction of the group who killed two Indians in a raid on their factory in Maiduguri last week, the military said.
The group is believed to have a loose leadership structure and several cells working independently of each other.
Southern Christian Jonathan has come under increasing pressure to stem the flow of violence, which is slowing economic development in the poverty-stricken north.
He sacked the national security adviser and minister of defense last month and promised new tactics to fight terrorism but gave no details.
(Additional reporting by Mike Oboh; Writing by Joe Brock)