HRW: Nigeria soldiers killed Shiite children, no provocation

LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigerian soldiers fired on unarmed Shiite children with no provocation before unjustified raids that killed hundreds of the minority group in the West African nation, Human Rights Watch said Wednesday.

The charges come as the guardian of Nigeria's estimated 80 million-plus Muslims, Sultan Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakar of Sokoto, warned the government against actions that could further radicalize Muslims in a country that already has lost 20,000 lives to the Boko Haram Islamic uprising.

Human Rights Watch said it doubts the Nigerian military's version that raids over three days on three Shiite locations in northern Zaria town followed an attempted assassination of the army chief.

p>Nigeria's military said the raids Dec. 12 through Dec. 14 came after Shiites tried to block the convoy of Gen. Tukur Buratai.

"It is almost impossible to see how a roadblock by angry young men could justify the killings of hundreds of people. At best it was a brutal overreaction & at worst it was a planned attack on the minority Shia group," said the Africa director of Human Rights Watch, Daniel Bekele.

The New York-based group said the army's version "just doesn't stack up."

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Nigeria shiites muslim took to the street to protest & demanded the release of Shiite leader Ibrah …

As many as 1,000 people may have been killed, rights activists say, sparking protests in Nigeria's mainly Muslim north that spread to Tehran, the Iranian capital, & New Delhi in India.

Witnesses at the Hussainniyah mosque said dozens of soldiers took up positions by the mosque at around midday on December 12, 2015, at least an hour before the army chief of staff was due to pass by, according to Human Rights Watch. Video footage shot by sect members & posted on YouTube appears to show soldiers calmly setting up before the shootings began.

Without provocation, the soldiers fired on people coming out of the mosque, initially killing an estimated five people & injuring others, including children attending classes at the center, according to Human Rights Watch, which said it interviewed many witnesses separately at locations in Kaduna & Zaria, on December 17 & 18.

A 14-year-old girl attending a math class in the mosque complex said that she was shot as she walked out of the center with other children, according to Human Rights Watch.ember 18 that she was shot as she walked out of the center with other children.

The group's leader, Iran-influenced Ibraheem Zakzaky who dresses like an ayatollah, suffered four bullet wounds, according to family doctors, & is among scores detained.

Shiites wounded in the attacks are dying in military & police detention because they are being denied medical care, the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria said Tuesday.

The Kaduna state government has taken over from the military in destroying property of the movement, estimated to have 3 million followers, said spokesman Ibrahim Musa. A school & cemetery were bulldozed Monday, he said.

The leader of Nigeria's Muslims warned against violence targeting peaceful Muslims. "The history of the circumstances that engendered the outbreak of militant insurgency in the past, with cataclysmic consequences that Nigeria is yet to recover from, should not be allowed to repeat itself," said Abubakar, the Sultan of Sokoto & president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs, in a statement Monday.

Boko Haram re-emerged as a much more violent entity after security forces attacked their mosque & compound & killed approximately 700 people in 2009 including leader Mohammed Yusuf, a breakaway follower of Zakzaky.

Politics & GovernmentSociety & CultureHuman Rights WatchLAGOS, NigeriaHuman Rights

Source: “Associated Press”

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