President Barack Obama has asked President Muhammadu Buhari to immediately probe the clash between the Nigerian Army and the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Zaria on Saturday.
In a statement through its Embassy in Abuja on Wednesday, the United States government said it was deeply concerned about the clash, which resulted in the loss of several civilian lives.
The statement reads:
“The United States is deeply concerned by reports of violent clashes between members of the Nigerian Army and the Shiite group Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria, Kaduna State over the past several days.
“While many details of the incidents that reportedly began on December 12 remain unclear, we are dismayed to learn of multiple civilian deaths. It is essential that all sides refrain from actions that further destabilize the situation.
“The United States calls on the Government of Nigeria to quickly, credibly, and transparently investigate these events in Zaria and hold to account any individuals found to have committed crimes.”
The fallout from the clash has since attracted international condemnation, with the Iranian government condemning the killing of the Shi’ite sect members by the army.
While that country’s Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif, called on the Federal Government to take “prompt and serious” action on the matter, its representative in Nigeria has since been summoned back home for briefing.
Several members of the Shi’ite sect were killed when the army raided the area occupied by the sect in the northern part of Zaria in Kaduna State.
The leader of the group, Ibrahim Zakzaky, was arrested.
The army had accused the Movement of attempting to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai, when members of the sect, who were conducting an annual ritual to usher in the month of Maulud, the birth month of the Prophet Mohammed, blocked the convoy of the army chief in Zaria.