MAIDUGURI, Nigeria, (AFP) - Troops struggled to crush a sect that is inspired by the Afghan Taliban in northern Nigeria Wednesday as the death toll from four days of clashes surged past 300 and thousands of people were forced from their homes. Police sources said fighting was concentrated in Maiduguri city, the base of the self-styled Nigerian Taliban following orders from President Umaru YarAdua for the armed forces to crush the movement once and for all. But fresh clashes were reported elsewhere, including Yobe state where police said 43 people were killed Wednesday, and fighting raged throughout Maiduguri. We are carrying out mortar shelling on the positions of these militants, Colonel Ben Ahnatu, the commander of the operation in Maiduguri, told AFP. Its time for action, not just talking. Another police source said that fighting was centred around five neighbourhoods and was at its most intense in Bayan Quarters where the sects leader Mohammed Yusuf was based. Yusufs home was shelled by forces on Tuesday evening, along with a mosque where many of his followers had gathered, but Yusuf appeared to have escaped. The house and the mosque have been pulverised and reduced to rubble, the police source said. He said the offensive to rout what he called the militants was likely to take longer than previously thought. To be honest with you I dont think the campaign will be finished within the next day or two, he said. Part of the obstacle the troops are facing is that there are still civilians in some of these neighbourhoods. Therefore troops need to be cautious. A police source said at least 43 had been killed in Wednesdays gunbattles there, adding 10 armoured tanks were guarding a nearby central prison which authorities suspect is the militants target. The 43 corpses are on their way to the police headquarters in Damaturu (state capital) in two police vans, said the source who demanded anonymity. Residents said it appeared that troops were now closing in on the last of the activists of the sect while human rights activists counted at least 10 new bodies. A brief phone conversation with one of the Taliban leaders, Aminu Tashen-Ilimi, was punctuated by the sounds of heavy shelling in the background and chants of Allah Akbar (God is Great). Dont you know we are being bombarded, how can I speak to you in this situation? he told AFP. Muslim clerics in Nigeria have slammed the violence as criminal. Its unfortunate and an embarrassment to the Muslims, Abdulkarim Mohazu, Secretary-General of Nigerias Jamaatul Nasril Islam, an umbrella body of Muslims in the country, told AFP. Northern Nigeria is mainly Muslim, although large Christian minorities have settled in the main towns, raising tensions between the two groups.