Deadly clashes erupted between the military and Shiite Muslims in Zaria, northern Nigeria, which also left the group’s headquarters and the home of its leader destroyed, witnesses said Sunday. Armed soldiers carried out crackdowns on the pro-Iranian Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) following an incident on Saturday involving the convoy of the chief of army staff.
The IMN, which seeks to establish an Islamic state through an Iranian-styled revolution, has been at loggerheads with Nigeria’s secular authorities, leading to occasionally violent confrontations. The group’s leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, has periodically been incarcerated for alleged incitement and subversion. Northern Nigeria is majority Muslim and largely Sunni.
IMN spokesman Ibrahim Musa claimed dozens of the group’s members were killed when soldiers opened fire and “hundreds more were injured and arrested” when Zakzaky’s home and the sect’s mosque were attacked. Zakzaky’s deputy and the group’s head of security were among the dead but the whereabouts of Zakzaky and his family was unknown, he added.
There was no independent confirmation of the death toll, although army spokesman Colonel Sani Usman said Sunday evening there was “loss of lives”, without specifying numbers. Local residents said soldiers backed by tanks invaded the Gyallesu area of Zaria and fought running battles through the night with hundreds of IMN members trying to block troops from reaching Zakzaky’s home. Read more