ABUJA (Reuters) – Nigerian troops and police clashed on Tuesday with Shi’ite Muslim marchers in the capital Abuja and gunfire could be heard, two witnesses told Reuters.
The air was thick with teargas as soldiers and police officers made arrests, according to a Reuters witness. The Shi’ite group marched in protest against the continued detention of its leader, despite a court ruling that he be released.
The violence happened a day after at least three people – including a journalist and senior policeman – were killed in a similar confrontation in the administrative heart of Abuja. As many as 10 more people may have died in the violence, a spokesman for the Shi’ites said that day.
Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) members regularly take to the streets of Abuja to call for the release of Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015. They say Zakzaky requires medical help. Live ammunition and teargas have been used by security forces in recent weeks.
Clashes between police and Zakzaky’s backers have raised fears that the IMN might turn to violent insurgency as did Sunni Islamist group Boko Haram after police killed their leader in 2009.
(Reporting by Abraham Achirga, Writing by Paul Carsten, Editing by Gareth Jones, William Maclean)