U.S. Expresses Concern Over Fatalities From Security, Shites Clashes

The United States on Friday expressed concerns over the deaths arising from clashes between men of the Nigerian/Police and the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as Shi’a Muslims in areas surrounding Abuja
In a one paragraph statement by its embassy, the U.S urged the Nigeria’s Federal authorities “to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law.”
The statement released by the Information Office of the Embassy’s Public Affairs Section, urged “restraint on all sides.”
Although the Nigerian Army claims that two soldiers were injured and three members of the IMN died as a result of the clash on Saturday, October 27, 2018, the group accused the Army and the Nigeria Police Force of killing 46 of its members, injuring 107.
In a tweet via its official handle on Friday, IMN said 46 of its members killed during the clash had been laid “to rest at Darur Rahma (Martyr’s cemetery) at Zaria, despite all attempts” the Federal and Kaduna State Government.
On Thursday, IMN wrote: “142 followers of Sheikh Zakzaky have been released on bail, 150 People are currently held in detention by SARS to be arraigned to court, 46 have been confirmed martyred, 110 people sustained various degrees of injuries.”
The group, in a press statement by IMN spokesperson, Abdullahi Muhammad Musa, on Wednesday, said 1,000 other members are still missing after a clash with security operatives during the three-day religious gathering tagged: ‘Arbaeen Symbolic Trek’ in Abuja.
“The public will recall that on Saturday, 27 October, 2018 the followers of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky (H) publicly announced the commencement of three days religious gathering (Arbaeen Symbolic Trek) and protest for unconditional release of our leader, Sheikh Zakzaky (H). Unfortunately, during the programme, the Military and Police killed 46 mourners and protesters, injured 107 and 1,000 got missing. The worst part of the crime, the Police are now blackmailing us to cover their atrocities.
“The Academic Forum of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (AFIMN) objected and rejected the baseless claims made by the Police that followers of Sheikh Zakzaky were arrested with explosives and at the same time, we are calling on the public to please ignore the allegation. The Police should come out and tell the world where they got the explosives and account for over 1,000 people that got missing during the three days protest.
“We are calling for the prosecution of all those that participated in the attack and killing of 46 protesters,” the statement added.
The statement by the U.S, followed a report of an investigation by Amnesty International on Wednesday, October 31, 2018, accusing soldiers and police of killing at least 45 supporters of the IMN in two days.
Amnesty said its researchers visited five different locations in Abuja and Nasarawa state where wounded IMN supporters were receiving treatment, including two locations where bodies were deposited.
They also spoke with victims, eyewitnesses and medical practitioners, and analyzed videos and photographs of those injured and killed during the protests, which took place on Saturday and Monday.
According to Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria, “We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members. Video footage and eyewitness testimonies consistently show that the Nigerian military dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition without warning, in clear violation of Nigerian and international law.
“Those injured were shot in different parts of the body – head, neck, back, chest, shoulder, legs, arms – and some of them had multiple gunshot wounds. This pattern clearly shows soldiers and police approached IMN processions not to restore public order, but to kill.”
Amnesty International has evidence that the military used automatic firearms during Monday’s protest, in which at least 122 protesters sustained gunshot wounds and at least 39 were killed. At least six people were killed in protests on Saturday.
The organization said its team counted 24 bodies, comprising 23 male and one female, just as trusted sources provided details of 21 others. Two of the bodies seen had their legs severed, which Amnesty International’s military and weapons expert analyzed as consistent with injuries caused by a heavy fully-automatic machine gun such as a PKM or DShK.
“It seems the Nigerian military are deliberately using tactics designed to kill when dealing with IMN gatherings. Many of these shootings clearly amount to extrajudicial executions,” said Ojigho.
“This violent crackdown on IMN protesters is unjustified and unacceptable. They were perfectly within their rights to hold a religious procession and protest and there was no evidence they posed an imminent threat to life.”
Many injured IMN supporters have sought medical treatment in unofficial buildings due to fear of arrest if they go to hospital.
Amnesty quoted one medical worker near Abuja as saying: “From yesterday (Monday) I attended to 57 people with gunshot wounds, most of them still having the bullets lodged in their bodies. We are only trying to stabilize them by arresting the flow of blood before sending them to hospital. It is not an ideal situation because this is an uncompleted building, not a hospital. I am hoping that they get to hospital today.”