UPDATE: 5 feared dead as Nigerian troops, Shiite Muslims Clash in Zaria over Gaza conflict

Shiite muslims in Zaria
Shiite muslims in Zaria

Dozens were injured in the clash, residents say.


Five people were feared killed Friday after a clash between Nigerian soldiers and Shiite Muslims in Zaria, Kaduna State.

Residents said soldiers exchanged fire with members of the group who were on a procession around the PZ area of the town, in response to the conflict between Israel and Palestine.

The procession, called Muzahara, is an annual ritual after the Ramadan, during which thousands of faithful walk around the city dressed in black.

This year, the Shiites dedicated the march to protesting the ongoing fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group, Hamas.

Details of the clash are still sketchy, but residents reported prolonged gunfire that lasted about an hour.

One resident said he saw five bodies taken away from the scene of the shooting.

“I can’t really ascertain what happened, but I saw five unidentified corpse taken away from the scene,” the resident, a Shiite Muslim, said.

The military did not respond to requests for comment. Defence spokesperson, Chris Olukolade, did not respond to calls to his phone.

The spokesperson for 1 Mechanized Division Nigeria Army, Usman Abdullahi, said he will give details later.

Another witness said the incident occurred when military personnel tried to force their way through the crowd of Shiite followers.

“Mahmood, one of Shiekh Ibrahim El-Zakzaki’s son is shot and the second son Ahmed was arrested and taken away by the security. Mahmood is however, not dead,” a witness, Musa Ali, said.

Residents scampered for safety after gunfire erupted, and shop owners closed for the day, Mr. Ali said.

Earlier, a witness had told PREMIUM TIMES that no life was lost in the encounter.

Zaria is the second major city in Kaduna State, and near the state capital, Kaduna, where twin bomb blasts killed more than 40 people on Wednesday.

The city is regarded as the spiritual centre of the radical Islamic groups in Nigeria.

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