The Police have confirmed the death of eight Shiites members and a police sergeant in Monday’s violent clash between the law enforcement agents and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Kano.
The clash occurred during a procession of the Shiites in the city.
The state Police Commissioner, Rabiu Yusuf, said the Shiites, who were allegedly in possession of dangerous weapons, were the aggressors in the clash.
He said they snatched an Ak47 gun from an officer and used it to kill the sergeant.
Mr. Yusuf said the incident started at about 8:00 a.m. when police officers were invited to a scene of mayhem at Kwanar Dawaki Zaria allegedly caused by the Shiites who, he said, blocked the road and were attacking motorists and vandalizing properties.
The commissioner said the law enforcement agents tried to stop the carnage with tear gas but were repelled by the Shiites with arrows and other dangerous weapons.
Mr. Yusuf said the officers had to resort to “minimal power, resulting in eight confirmed dead by the doctors”.
He said scores of injured Shiites members were receiving treatment at various hospitals.
The Commissioner said four of his officers were also injured, while ten Shiites were arrested.
The casualty figure could not be confirmed independently.
However, a witness who preferred anonymity said he saw a pile of bodies of Shiite members being removed from the scene of the clash in a police van.
Another witness had told PREMIUM TIMES that the crisis started when the police tried to forcefully stop the Shiite procession.
Mr. Yusuf said he had directed the officer in charge of the Criminal Investigation Department of the command to begin investigations into the immediate and remote causes of the clash.
He urged residents of the state to report any suspicious movement to the nearest police station, warning that the authorities would not tolerate any attempt at causing civil disaffection and breach of peace by anybody.
While the police claimed the Shiites were the aggressors, the group’s spokesperson has refuted the claim.
Ibrahim Musa said his group’s members were having their annual “Arbaeen Symbolic Trek” from Kano to Zaria, in Kaduna State, when they were attacked by police officers.
He denied that his group’s members had any weapons.
“Throughout the nearly four decades of the existence of the IMN, it has never stockpiled, carried or used weapons. It never had any cause to, even in the face of provocation,” the IMN spokesperson said.
Monday’s killings occur about a year after over 300 Shiites were killed by soldiers who also accused them of blocking a major road in Kaduna State during a procession.
The leader of the Shiites, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky has been in detention since the December attack condemned by local and international rights groups.