Kano: Gunmen shot and killed a Muslim cleric highly critical of a hardline Islamist sect, in an attack outside his home in Maiduguri, northeast Nigeria, witnesses said.
The attackers, who were in a sports utility vehicle, gunned down Ibrahim Abdullahi Bolori outside his house, which is just next to a mosque, neighbours said.
"The sheikh came out of his house around 8:00 pm (1900 GMT) and sat outside. An unmarked jeep slowed down and gunmen shot him... five times before speeding off," said a neighbour Awwalu Ishaq.
Bolori had been an outspoken critic of the radical Islamist group known as Boko Haram, which in 2009 launched an uprising in Maiduguri, the provincial capital of Borno state.
The revolt was put down by a brutal military assault, but since 2010, attacks attributed to the group have left dozens dead, most of them policemen.
Another cleric who spoke against the sect was gunned down in the same city October last year at his house while giving a theology lesson to a student.
The sect, whose name means "education is a sin", has been blamed for killings targeting police officers, local community leaders, clerics and politicians in recent months.
Last September, it launched an assault on a prison in Nigeria`s northern Bauchi state, using machine guns and improvised explosives to break into the jail and free more than 700 inmates, many thought to have been sect members.
Boko Haram is fighting for the creation of an Islamic state in Nigeria, whose 150 million-strong population is divided roughly in half between Christians and Muslims.
The attacks come ahead of general elections in April and amid fears that the campaign and the vote itself could be marred by violence, as they have been in the past.