Nigerian army’s raids on Shia Muslims pre-planned: Islamic Movement official
A senior official with the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) says the deadly raids by the army on Shias in the northern city of Zaria were pre-planned.
“Attacks against Shia Muslims by Nigerian army were pre-planned,” said Ibrahim Musa, who serves as the spokesman for the IMN, in an interview with Press TV on Tuesday.
Local media said on December 12 that more than a dozen people were killed after clashes erupted between the Nigerian army and Shia Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna State. The military accused the Shias of attempting to assassinate Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, the chief of the Nigerian army staff. Nigerian soldiers opened fire on the people attending a religious ceremony at Hussainiyyah Baqeeyatullah, a religious center belonging to the IMN.
One day later, revered Nigerian Shia cleric Ibrahim al-Zakzaky and his wife were arrested during a raid by the army on his residence and the buildings connected to the Shia community in the city. Musa condemned the army for the raid on the house of the IMN leader. Local sources say hundreds of people trying to protect the cleric were killed.
The IMN spokesman said the Nigerian government has yet to provide members of the movement with access to Zakzaky, saying the IMN wants to be informed of the health condition of its leader, who reportedly suffered serious injuries during the raid.
The Nigerian army on Tuesday confirmed the arrest of Sheikh Zakzaky, saying he and his wife are safe and in protective custody in a secured facility.
Musa also called on the government to allow members of the IMN to inspect the site of the raid in Zaria.
Human rights groups and activists have strongly denounced the Nigerian government for violating religious and social freedoms by attacking peaceful Shia gatherings.
The Nigerian army had also targeted Shias in August last year as people were holding a demonstration to condemn Israeli attacks on Palestinians.
Shias in Nigeria have also been targeted by the Takfiri militant group Boko Haram. More than 20 people were killed on November 27 in a Boko Haram bomb attack targeting Shia Muslims during an annual religious procession in the northern state of Kano.