Nigerian troops have reportedly attacked Shia Muslims, killing several people and injuring many others during a peaceful annual Ashura procession in Zaria, Kaduna state in the northwest.
Sheikh Abdulhamid Bello, a spokesman for the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), confirmed that at least four Shia mourners were killed by security forces in the attack on the peaceful mourners’ procession held in Zaria’s Central Market on Monday.
“Many of our members were attacked, and at least four people have been confirmed dead,” Sheikh Bello, who is the representative ofIMN leader Ibrahim al-Zakzaky in Zaria, was quoted as saying.
Bello said the death toll from the attack had risen to six, while at least 50 more had sustained varying degrees of injury and were receiving medical attention in health facilities.
He accused the soldiers of “sporadic shooting at innocent citizens, including Shia members”. Unconfirmed reports said Sheikh Zazaky’s nephew was among the dead.
An eyewitness cited by Iranpress, Abdulhakam Muhammad, said the procession had already finished peacefully when the police moved in and started firing teargas.
He said that after the police initiated the attack, the soldiers who were initially stationed in front of Emir of Zazzau Palace, starting firing live bullets, killing and injuring the mourners who were leaving the marketplace via the Babban Dodo roundabout.
Ashura mourning processions are held each year in many cities and towns in Nigeria. The mourning procession held on Ashura, the tenth day of Muharram the first month in the Islamic lunar calendar, marks the day Imam Hussein (AS), the grandson of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was unjustly assassinated by the tyrant of the time Yazid in Karbala, Iraq.
A human rights activist, Ali Musa, also shared the information on his Twitter handle.
“Report of @elrufai genocidal security forces attacked #Ashura2022 Mourners after the peaceful annual Ashura Procession in Zaria, Kaduna State,” he tweeted. “@elrufai who buried 100s of Shias in secret mass graves is continuing his atrocities. @IntlCrimCourt @hrw @ihrc @amnesty @AP
Another Twitter user, Engr. A.M. Ikira confirmed the incident, writing, “Shias again, I narrowly escaped their clash today at Zaria.”