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7 Feared Dead As Shi’ites, Security Agents Clash Over El-Zakzaky

No fewer than seven persons were feared dead Monday, while 21 others sustained injuries, as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, IMN, engaged security operatives in a bloody clash in Abuja. The clash followed demands by the sect members for release of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, by the Federal Government. The Police Commissioner of the Federal Capital Territory, FCT, command had last Friday banned the group from further protests in the city, after a rally at the popular Unity Fountain, where they had a sit-out. 

 

Vanguard gathered that members of the religious sect, in defiance of the Police order, yesterday insisted on staging their peaceful protest around the Fountain, saying the ban was a breach of their constitutional rights. The large crowd of protesters included adult males and females, as well as under-aged members who came from various parts of the country. Business activities around the Unity Fountain and 3-Arms Zone were grounded in what started as a peaceful demonstration but later turned violent when security forces tried to stop their march on the streets. Eye witnesses said that the IMN members were ready for a showdown with the security agents as they defied police tear-gas and hot water in their march towards the Eagle Square.

 

In the melee that ensued, it was gathered that security operatives drafted to enforce the Police order deployed teargas, water cannons and live ammunition on the protesters, which resulted  in casualties. Secretary of the Academic Forum of IMN, Mallam Abdullahi Musa said members of the sect who sustained gunshot injuries were rushed to a private facility where they were being treated by health workers and fellow members of the movement.

 

He also said that several corpses of their members who died at the scene of the clash were carried away by the Police to unknown location. “We came out to continue our peaceful protest to demand for the release of our leader, Sheikh El-Zakzaky, but true to the promise of the Police Commissioner, we met the Unity Fountain cordoned off by about 200 armed Police officers, backed by soldiers. “We engaged them in talks. We asked them to let us hold our daily sit-out because it is our right to do so. But they refused. So, we quickly drafted a petition and headed to the headquarters of the Human Rights Commission to register our grievances.

 

The security operatives launched an attack on us, using tear-gas and water cannons to disperse us and stop us from proceeding with our plans. “We attempted to resist them with stones. But then, they opened fire on some of our members, killing many and injuring scores. They also carried away the remains of quite a lot of our members and even sat on them as they drove to an unknown location. On our part, we took 28 to a facility where some health workers among us will give them medical attention. Unfortunately, we lost seven to profuse bleeding from the gunshot injuries they sustained,” Musa said.

 

Effort by Vanguard to visit the facility where the injured were being treated was truncated by some members of the sect who expressed concern over the safety and security of those in critical condition.

Photo Credit: 
hrw.org

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