A car bomb has exploded in the Christian neighbourhood of Nigeria's second most populous city, Kano, killing at least four and wounding five others, police have said.

Police Superintendent Aderenle Shinaba said the car exploded on Sunday night before the bomber reached his target of the restaurants and bars lining Gold Coast Street.

He indicated the casualties could have been much higher, the Associated Press news agency reported. It was unclear if the bomber was among those killed.

An eyewitness, Abdul Dafar, told the Reuters news agency that 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 reportedly said.

The Sabon Gari, a Christian area of the Muslim-majority city of Kano, is a popular place where people dine, play games, dance and drink alcohol late into the night.

Previous attacks

Multiple blasts in Sabon Gari killed at least 24 people last July and a suicide bomber drove a car filled with explosives into the neighbourhood's bus station in March 2013, killing at least 25 people.

The previous two attacks on Kano were blamed on the armed group Boko Haram, which has been fighting for the implementation of Islamic law throughout Nigeria.

The group claimed responsibility for two other explosions last month in the capital Abuja that killed more than 120 people and wounded more than 200.

Boko Haram is currently in the spotlight for the abduction of more than 200 school girls from a remote village in the northeast of the country. The UK, the United States and France have pledged to help rescue them.

Source: Agencies