Nigerian security forces kill eight people in Shia march, participant says


ABUJA, September 28 (Reuters) – Nigerian soldiers and police on Tuesday shot dead eight Shiites who were participating in a religious procession along a main road in the federal capital Abuja, according to a member of a banned Shiite group participating in the the event.

Police and military spokespersons did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The procession to mark the Shiite religious ritual of Arbaeen was organized by the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), a group banned by the government in 2019 after protests against the detention of its leader. Security forces opened fire at previous IMN events.

Abdullahi Muhamed, an IMN member, said participants were walking peacefully along the Abuja-Kubwa highway when a combined team of police and soldiers fired tear gas and live ammunition at them.

Eight people were shot and two taken away by security forces, he said.

Videos and images posted on social media and posted by Nigerian news sites showed bodies lying on the ground and people fleeing what appeared to be clouds of tear gas. Reuters could not independently verify the material.

Muslims make up about half of Nigeria’s 200 million people. But the overwhelming majority of them are Sunnis, and the small Shiite minority has long complained of discrimination and repression.

IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky was released after being acquitted in July of eight charges, including aiding and abetting murder, illegal assembly and disturbing public order. Read more

Zakzaky and his wife had been in detention since 2015, when they were arrested after a clash in which the military killed around 350 people at an IMN compound and at a nearby mosque and cemetery in the Kaduna State (north).

Since his release, Zakzaky has met with supporters who survived the 2015 clashes, which were widely reported in the Nigerian media.

Arbaeen marks the end of a 40-day period of religious mourning for Imam Hussein, grandson of Prophet Mohammad.

Reporting by Abraham Achirga, written by Estelle Shirbon; Editing by Kevin Liffey

Our Standards: Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

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