Nigeria Soldiers Killed Shiite Children, No Provocation: Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch (HRW) says the Nigerian army slew Shia children earlier in the month, opening fire on the unarmed youngsters with no provocation.
The New York-based rights body said the instance of bloodshed was one among the several committed against the country’s Shia community in mid-December.
The killing of the children was followed by another incident, in which Nigerian forces killed as many as 1,000 Shias in raids on three Shia centers in the northern Nigerian city of Zaria from December 12 to 14.
The HRW also expressed disbelief at the army’s explanation for the three-day-long massacre. The army says it carried out the raids after Shias set up roadblocks during a religious ceremony three days earlier, stopped the convoy of Nigeria’s Chief of Army Staff Lieutenant General Tukur Yusuf Buratai and attempted to assassinate him.
The army’s version “just doesn’t stack up,” Daniel Bekele, the New York-based rights group’s Africa director, said on Wednesday, adding, “It is almost impossible to see how a roadblock… could justify the killings of hundreds of people.”
“At best it was a brutal overreaction and at worst it was a planned attack on the minority Shia group,” he said.
The Shias have categorically denied the accusations of fully blocking roads and attempting to assassinate Buratai. On Sunday, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN)’s spokesman, Ibrahim Usman, rejected the accusation that the Shias had brought about “complete occupation of a lane for four days.”