Nigeria: Shia Muslims killed by security forces during religious procession

15th Nov 2016
Nigeria: Shia Muslims killed by security forces during religious procession

By Rafiu Ajakaye

 

LAGOS, (AA): At least nine people were killed when security forces opened fire on Shia Muslim pilgrims in northwest Nigeria on Monday, police and the Shia organization Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) told Anadolu Agency.

Kano state police chief Rabiu Yusuf said security forces intervened to protect citizens who he claimed were being attacked by Shia members “wielding dangerous weapons” and blocking a major highway.

“We lost an officer while another sustained injuries. Eight members of the sect were confirmed dead,” Yusuf told reporters in Kano.

People marching to mark the end of 40 days’ mourning for Imam Husayn, the Prophet Muhammad’s grandson, were targeted with live ammunition and tear gas in the state capital Kano, the group said in a statement.“Live shots are being fired by security forces at #ArbaeenTrek in Kano,” the Shia movement said.

The statement had been accompanied by photographs of three dead bodies. Anadolu Agency was unable to independently verify the claims.

“Well armed police men in close to a hundred police trucks today 14/11/16,  opened fire on the peaceful Arbaeen trek to Zaria in the outskirts of Kano metropolis,” said statement by Islamic movement (IMN).

“The trek had started like in previous years solemnly, orderly and peacefully without hitches. Shortly after, a contingent of armed policemen appeared and started firing teargas on the trekkers without provocations. Because of the massive turnout, the trek continued and when IMN members reached a neighborhood called Kwanar Dawaki, about five Kilometers from Kano, police opened fire on the trekkers with live ammunition. The firing by the police was randomly carried out that they also hit their colleague, and we are not unmindful of possibility they would claim we did it,  similar to what they did in Zaria,” added the statement.

Magaji Majiya, a Kano police spokesman, would neither confirm nor deny the allegations at the time.“We are in an operation at the moment,” he had said when contacted by telephone. “I cannot talk to you now.”

The Arbaeen march sees hundreds of thousands of Shias trek from cities across northern Nigeria to converge at the IMN’s main office in Zaria in Kaduna state.

Kano and neighboring Kaduna and Katsina states have banned Shia processions following recent confrontations between the IMN and security forces.

More than 300 Shia were killed in Kaduna last December by soldiers who opened fire in response to a purported attempt to assassinate the head of the army.

Shia chief Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky and his wife Zeenat have since been detained by secret police and calls for their release or trial have been ignored.

Further confrontation between security forces and Shia marchers are likely, observers say, particularly at army cordons in Jos city, Plateau state.

Additiona reporting by The Muslim News

 

[Photo: Shia Muslim child injured by shots fired by Nigerian Security forces in Kano State, NW Nigeria on 14 November 2016. Photo by Islamic Movement of Nigeria]

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