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An annual procession of members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) was violently dispersed by Nigerian troops and policemen in Nigeria’s capital city of Abuja on Monday, multiple witnesses said.
The witnesses said there were fatalities. But The Guardian cannot verify the number as of yet.
The Movement said on Twitter that its members were “on their #Arbaeen2018 procession from Mararraba axis” when the troops started shooting at them.
Arbaeen is a Shia Muslim religious observance that occurs forty days after the Day of Ashura, another religious observance mostly celebrated by Shiites.
IMN also posted pictures of its members allegedly shot by the troops. It said the attacks on its members who “peacefully trekking” were unprovoked.
Amnesty International has described the face-off as “disturbing” and “unlawful”.
“Fatalities as a result of soldiers use of maximum force in confrontation with IMN protesters demonstrates that the security forces were not seeking to maintain public order but to murder,” the human right watchdog said on its Twitter handle.
“Despite previous overwhelming evidence that the Nigerian soldiers have committed human rights violations against #IMN supporters, there has been no action by the authorities to hold them to account.”
Members of the group had on Saturday stormed the Kubwa Expressway in the Federal Capital Territory, Abuja, to demand the release of the group’s leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, and to protest the alleged killing of Shiites by the Nigerian Army.