Nigerian Shiite group says six killed in police firing

Nigerian police on Tuesday fired on members of a banned Shiite group staging religious processions, killing six people, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) said.

The pro-Iranian group defied a police ban to hold its annual Ashura religious procession, leading to a violent crackdown in several cities, a spokesman said.

Founded by Muslim cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky, the IMN has been at loggerheads with the Nigerian authorities, leading to bloody clashes that have claimed hundreds of lives in recent months.

“Our members came under attack in several towns and cities. In Kaduna, police opened fire… killing three and injuring 10. They also made many arrests,” spokesman Ibrahim Musa told AFP.

He said one IMN member was shot dead in Sokoto, another city in the north.

Musa said police fired tear gas to break up processions in the national capital Abuja and in the city of Bauchi.

Saleh Usman Deba, a spokesman for the group in Gombe state, said two members were killed while seven were wounded.

“After finishing our procession, we came under attack by the police who fired teargas and opened fire on our members,” he said.

“So far, two people have been killed and seven others injured. Several people have been arrested while the IMN headquarters in Gombe has been sealed,” he said.

The police refused to comment on claims when contacted by AFP.

On Monday, the police had warned that anybody who joined the procession would be treated as a terrorist.

IMN founder Zakzaky and his wife have been in detention since 2015 when his supporters clashed with soldiers in the northern city of Zaria. That bloody encounter left some 350 IMN supporters dead, sparking confrontations with the police and military.