LAGOS  - Gangs set up burning roadblocks, police fired tear gas and businesses shut in Nigeria Tuesday, the second day of a national strike that has paralysed the country and left six people dead.

As thousands took to the streets to protest soaring fuel costs, youth gangs set up roadblocks of burning tyres along major roads in Lagos, the largest city in Africa's most populous nation, and threw stones at cars while extorting cash from drivers.

Protesters marched through the streets of the city to the sound of blaring afrobeat music, sometimes with soldiers clapping and taking pictures.

One person brought a goat wrapped in a union flag while others carried a mock coffin labelled "Badluck", a play on the name of President Goodluck Jonathan. Protesters encouraged those watching from the roadside to join in. The mass of marchers later crossed a bridge and entered the historic centre of Lagos, chanting and dancing through the winding roads. In one area of the city, protesters set up roadblocks and held up drivers, claiming a bus had run over someone on his way to the demonstration and killed him. Traders in another part of Lagos were said to have stayed away from a market out of fear that criminals would seek to rob them amid the unrest.

The few taxis on the road often had leafy branches stuck to their bonnets as a sign that they sympathised with protesters.

In the northern city of Bauchi, police fired tear gas and shot into the air to disperse a few thousand protesters at two locations, residents said. No one was reported hurt. The indefinite strike follows the government's controversial move to end fuel subsidies on January 1, which caused petrol prices to more than double in a country where most of the 160 million population lives on less than $2 a day.

"We will not call off the strike until the government listens to the voice of reason and rescinds its decision," said Daniel Ejiofor, a 41-year-old labour activist at the protest in Lagos. "We appeal to Nigerians to persevere because victory is around the corner." On Monday, police and protesters clashed and six people were killed as tens of thousands demonstrated nationwide and the strike shut down the country. Officials said, however, that oil output -- the government's economic lifeblood -- has not been affected in Africa's largest crude producer. Much of the production is offshore.

The strike comes at a crucial moment for Nigeria, already hit by spiralling violence blamed on Islamist sect Boko Haram.

On Monday, tensions ran particularly high in Kano, the largest city in Nigeria's north, where thousands converged on the state governor's office and were pushed back by police who fired tear gas and shot into the air.

The state government imposed a nighttime curfew on the city, where a hospital source said two people were shot dead. A Red Cross official said 18 people had gunshot wounds in Kano.

A curfew was also slapped on the capital of northern Zamfara state after a group of protesters smashed the windows of a church.

In the southern city of Benin, protesters Monday attacked a mosque and wounded several people, leading police to fire tear gas, police and witnesses said.

A witness said he saw police take away a man with a machete cut on his head.

Three people were shot dead in protests in Lagos on Monday, according to the head of Nigeria's human rights commission -- one of them allegedly by a police officer.

Police confirmed the death and said the officer was arrested.

The government says it spent more than $8 billion (6.3 billion euros) on subsidies in 2011 and needs the savings from scrapping the subsidies to improve the country's woefully inadequate infrastructure.

Nigerians view the subsidies as their only benefit from the nation's oil wealth and lack any real trust in government after years of deeply rooted corruption.