Police say gunmen have shot dead three people in a major northern Nigerian city where sect attacks have claimed more than a hundred lives.

Kano state police spokesman Rilwanu Dutse says the attack occurred Saturday just before the predominantly Muslim city of Kano prepared for the sunset prayer. Dutse said Sunday a fourth person was injured in the attack.

A witness said the assailants fired at a group of people resting under a tree and then rode off on motorcycles.

A radical Muslim sect known as Boko Haram is known to have carried out similar drive-by shootings in the past. At least 185 people died in Kano in coordinated January attacks claimed by the sect.

Boko Haram is waging an increasingly bloody struggle against Nigeria's weak central government.