Nigerian police ‘open fire’ on Shia Muslim Ashura procession

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SHAFAQNA- Nine people were killed as police opened fire on a Shia Muslim procession in Nigeria’s north on Wednesday, a spokesman for the group said.

Harun El-Binawi, from the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), told Anadolu Agency that at least 20 were wounded when police fired on hundreds of Shia marking the Day of Ashura in Funtua, Katsina state.

Residents said gunfire broke out after hundreds of Shia refused police orders to disperse.

“The procession turned bloody as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria refused police attempts to break [up] the procession,” Rufai Danlami said. “They were fired and many of the protesters were seen scampering for safety.”

He said 23 people were hit by gunfire andunable to rise and were taken away for treatment. One dead body was also taken away the eyewitness added.

Local police did not immediately respond to Anadolu Agency’s request for comment.

Ashura is a Shia event to mark the death of Imam Al-Hussein, a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.

Other violence to hit the Shia Muslim community in northern Nigeria broke out in Kaduna state where three were killed when a mob set fire to a learning center and the home of Shia cleric Mukhtar Sahabi, IMN spokesman Ibrahim Musa said.

Police spokesman Aliyu Usman confirmed the arson attack and said no arrest had been made. The IMN is banned in Kaduna state following violent clashes with the army last year that left more than 300 dead.

Musa said several Shia taking part in a parade in the northern town of Jos were arrested and another learning center torched.

The IMN’s leader Ibrahim El-Zakzaky was arrested after last year’s violence in Zaria city, Kaduna.

Prior to that, at least 35 Shia Muslims, including three of El-Zakzaky’s sons, were killed by troops during a Quds Day procession in July 2014.

[Photo: Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. Photographer: Abbas Goudarzi/Creative Commons]

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