Nigerian forces kill reporter, mourner during Ashura procession
Nigerian forces have killed a reporter and a mourner after attacking the Ashura procession in the northern state of Kaduna, a report says.
The deadly incident took place in the eponymous provincial capital on Sunday, when Muslim mourners held a procession to commemorate Ashura, the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the third Shia Imam, 14 centuries ago.
The Nigerian forces opened live fire against the mourners, killing a Kaduna press reporter, identified as Muhammad Bashir, and a teenage mourner, identified as Mohammed Baqer, the UK-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) said in a report.
It added that an unidentified number of others sustained injuries during the raid on the Ashura procession.
Bashir’s funeral was held at Darur Rahama Cemetery in the city of Zaria.
“The use of live ammunition against peaceful protestors and this case mourners taking part in a religious ceremony, are part of the Nigerian landscape under [Nigerian President Muhammadu] Buhari,” Massoud Shadjareh, head of IHRC, said.
He called on the Nigerian authorities to stop their attacks against unarmed and peaceful people, demanding the launch of “an immediate process of restitution.”
Nigerian forces have for the past several years mounted a bloody crackdown on the Shia Muslim minority in the African country.
Nigeria’s top Shia cleric Sheikh Ibrahim al-Zakzaky, who is in his mid-60s, has been in detention since December 2015 after his home in Zaria, also in Kaduna, was brutally raided by the country’s security forces, during which he was beaten and lost his left eye.
During the violent crackdown, three of his sons lost their lives, his wife sustained serious wounds and more than 300 of his followers were killed.
Sheikh Zakzaky, who leads the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), was charged in April 2018 with murder, culpable homicide, unlawful assembly, disruption of public peace and other accusations. He has pleaded not guilty, vehemently rejecting all accusations brought up against him by his country's authorities.
In 2016, Nigeria’s federal high court ordered Zakzaky’s unconditional release from jail following a trial, but the government has so far refused to set him free.
His followers have held countless of peaceful protests, demanding his immediate release, but have almost always faced brutal crackdown by the Nigerian forces.
IMN members say the Nigerian government has turned a deaf ear to all protests calling for the top cleric’s release.