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UPDATED: Many feared dead, several injured, vehicles damaged as Shiites clash with soldiers, police in Abuja .

UPDATED: Many feared dead, several injured, vehicles damaged as Shiites clash with soldiers, police in Abuja .

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Molly Kilete, Abuja

Hell was let loose, on Monday, in Abuja, the Federal Capital Territory (FCT), when members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN reportedly overpowered the police who had been preventing them from gaining access into Abuja and engaged soldiers of the Guards Brigade in a shootout.

In the process, an unspecified number of persons were said to have been killed, several others injured while some motorists had their vehicles destroyed by the Shiites group who threw stones and other dangerous items at innocent people.

The Shiites were said to have stormed Nyanya in their thousands.

The pandemonium that ensued led to a traffic gridlock on the ever-busy Nyanya/Keffi road, as thousands of residents and travelers alike spent several hours on the road.

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Those who could not withstand the situation abandoned their vehicles and trekked home.

The situation was so bad that even commercial motorcycle operators popularly known as ‘Okada’, could not ply the route.

Men of the Federal Road Safety Corps, Vehicle Inspection Office, Special Marshall’s and other security agencies called to help with the traffic situation were overwhelmed by the situation.

One motorist told Daily Sun that it took him two hours to get to AYA junction from Power house junction and wondered when he would get home.

Trouble was said to have started after members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), overpowered the police who have been preventing them from gaining access into the FCT, at Mararaba and marching into the city when they were stopped at a military checkpoint by soldiers who refused them from going any further.

Angered by the audacity of the soldiers, the group was said to have opened fire at the soldiers and using dangerous object to stone them.

The incident which happened at about 3:30 p.m., in the afternoon led to a shootout between the Shiite group and the soldiers.

Daily Sun gathered that the police who have been battling since Saturday to confine the group at Mararaba, a satellite town in Nassarawa state near Abuja, were eventually overpowered by the group thus forcing the police to retreat.

When contacted on the matter the commander Guards Brigade, Brigadier General U. T. Musa, confirmed the incident but said normalcy has been restored in the area and urged people to go about their lawful business.

He, however, warned that the brigade would not tolerate a situation where innocent persons are attacked without the slightest provocation.

Moreover, Gen. Musa, said the standing rule of the Brigade is that nobody is allowed entry into the city of Abuja without due permission, adding that the brigade would do all in its powers to ensure no persons of group violates the order.

Narrating what happened, the commander said it was actually the Shiite group that opened fire at the soldiers after they refused them to pass through and that the soldiers had no option than to defend themselves.

“They started shooting at us and we had no option but to defend ourselves and that is exactly what we have done”

Narrating what happened, Gen. Musa said “the Shiites came in their thousands stoning soldiers, police and even motorists plying the road and every body.

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“So, we operated as per the Rule of Engagement, so that was what happened”

“This whole mess started about 3:30 or thereabout and it started from Nyanya, where they stoned the police and overpowered them.

“You know We have a checkpoint around Karu bridge and we have a rule that nobody enters into this city without permission so it was actually at the checkpoints that this thing happened”.

“They were in their thousands chanting and stoning everybody and destroying everybody’s vehicle along the road and we cannot take that.

“We have restored normalcy and traffic is flowing now,” Guards Brigade commander told Daily Sun, in a telephone interview.

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