SHAFAQNA – Many fatalities have been reported after the army and police targeted Shia Muslim supporters of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria’s minority Shia community (IMN) taking part in peaceful annual processions marking the death of a grandson of the Prophet Muhammad.
At least nine people are reported killed after security forces opened fire with live rounds on followers of IMN the Islamic Movement of Nigeria taking part in a procession in Funtua in Katsina state.
Three people are so far reported to have been killed in Kaduna city (see photos attached), a stronghold of the IMN, where the main mosque used by its followers was also set on fire.
The Kaduna Markaz mosque had been surrounded by security forces since yesterday.
Reports also indicate that in Kaduna the authorities hired thugs to find and kill Shia Muslims from IMN.
The police backed group is currently reported to be headed to the IMN centre in the city of Kano where the family of the late IMN leader Sheikh Muhammad Turi resides. Turi was killed in December 2015 when the army undertook a massacre of over 1000 members of the IMN.
Another fatality was reported in the north western state of Sokoto.
Troops are currently attacking the IMN centre with tear gas and live rounds in the city of Jos in Plateau state inside which several people including a leader of the IMN, Sheikh Adamu Tsohos, are trapped. Sheikh Adamu Tsohosís house in Jos was also reportedly under attack. Earlier people were stopped and arrested or turned back as they made their way into Jos to participate in the religious procession.
Today’s violence confirmed earlier fears that the Nigerian authorities would seek to sabotage the annual commemoration of Ashura in the country.
Annual processions took place in many cities in the majority Muslim north of Nigeria marking the martyrdom of the Prophet’s grandson in the year 680 AD.
This year’s processions have been preceded by a military build-up that is reminiscent of the run-up to the massacre last December of at least one thousand IMN supporters by the army.
There has also been a spate of arrests over recent days of IMN supporters in response to a recent state-wide ban proscribing membership of the movement.
As was feared, the new law appears to be being used as an attempt to further weaken the movement whose leader Shaikh Ibrahim Zakzaky remains under arrest. Sheikh Zakzaky was shot in last December’s attack and remains in the custody of Nigeria’s internal security services without charge.
The ban on membership of the IMN was widely interpreted as an attempt to prevent the movement’s supporters from attending ceremonies commemorating historical events in the Islamic month of Muharram.