Tension grips Zaria as soldiers kill El-Zakzaky’s son, 10 others

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Five people, including the son of the Leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, also known as Shiite, Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, Mahmud, were feared killed Friday after a clash between 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.

Mahmud’s younger brother, Ahmed El-Zakzaky, was among the dozens of people arrested by the military.

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.

Meanwhile, the Shiite Muslims insisted that 11 of its members were killed and 40 others injured in the Friday attack.

In a statement on Friday night, the group said among those gunned down were Mahmud, the son of the leader of the group, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, as well as a woman with a baby strapped to her back.

Ibrahim Musa, the editor of Al-Mizan, the weekly newspaper published by the group, said in a statement, “Reports reaching our news desk now indicated that some soldiers of the Nigerian army have opened fire on the tail end of the Quds procession held after Jumaat prayers in Zaria, Kaduna State.

“The procession, which took off from Sabon Gari Jumaat Mosque, reached Kofar Doka peacefully with no incident. However some soldiers attacked the procession [at the] PZ junction in Zaria.

“They shot Mahmud Ibraheem Zakzaky, but [his body] was taken away by the Muslim brothers. But several [other] Muslim brothers were shot by the security agents.

“As at the time of writing this report, there is no confirmation on the number of Muslim brothers shot or killed by the soldiers, but our [sources] say five people were killed. The Quds procession was held today peacefully in more than 10 Nigerian cities. Why the attack on the Zaria procession?

“[The] latest report on the attack by soldiers on Quds peaceful procession is that ten Muslim brothers were gunned down by the soldiers, among them Mahmud Ibraheem Zakzaky, son of Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, and a Muslim sister with her child on her back. There are over 40 Muslim brothers’ casualties with different degrees of gunshots by the soldiers. The story is still unfolding, with reinforcement of soldiers coming from Kaduna, according to our news sources.”

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