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Nigerian army kills several Shias during clashes

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Nigerian military forces kill several Shia Muslims who had gathered to attend a religious ceremony in Zaria, Kaduna State, December 12, 2015.

Nigerian military forces have killed several Shia Muslims who had gathered to attend a religious ceremony north of the country.

Local media said on Saturday that at least seven people were killed after clashes erupted between the Nigerian army and Shia Muslims in the city of Zaria, Kaduna State.

Reports said soldiers opened fire on the people in Hussainiyyah Baqeeyatullah, a religious center belonging to the Islamic Movement of Nigeria. The Shias had reportedly stopped the convoy of the Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai as the leader of the Shia movement in Nigeria, Ayatollah Ibrahim Zakzaky, was planning a speech in the religious center.

The leader of the Shia movement in Nigeria, Ayatollah Ibrahim Zakzaky

According to the eyewitnesses, the area was cordoned off with security forces reported to have a heavy presence there.

Nigerian army had also targeted Shias in August last year as people were holding a demonstration to condemn Israeli attacks on the Palestinians.  

Shias in Zaria, one of the major Shia-dominated cities of Nigeria, have become angry over the past weeks at a surge in attacks on the members of their community, demanding the government in Abuja to do more to protect the religious gatherings of the Shias in the country.

More than 20 people were killed on November 27 in a bomb attack targeting Nigerian Shia Muslims during an annual religious procession in the northern state of Kano. The Takfiri group Boko Haram, which has killed thousands of people in Nigeria and neighboring countries over the past six years, claimed the attacks.  

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