‘Many shot’ as Nigeria police and Shia pilgrims clash in Kano

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A number of Nigerian Shia Muslims on a religious procession have been shot during clashes with police in the northern city of Kano, reports say.
shia-muslimsAt least 10 pilgrims were killed, the AFP reported. Police said one officer had died, Reuters reported.

The group behind the procession, the Iran-backed Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), has a history of tension with the security forces.

Last December troops killed 349 of its members during a crackdown.

A journalist travelling with the procession told the BBC that many marchers had been shot in the latest violence, which took place on the outskirts of Kano.

Officers blocked the road leading to Zaria in neighbouring Kaduna state, the destination for the seven-day march, local media reported.

An unnamed police officer told AFP that officers had opened fire after they were met with violence from pilgrims.

“I saw 15 bodies sprawled on the ground before the police evacuated them,” grocer Ilyasu Ammani told AFP.

The IMN is Nigeria’s biggest Shia organisation and has its headquarters in Zaria.

It has been outlawed in Kaduna state for carrying out unlawful processions.

Its followers have been involved in a series of clashes with the security forces and attacks by Sunni militants.

In October, 10 IMN members were reported to have been killed in northern Katsina state following clashes with security forces during a religious celebration.

In August, a judicial review said Nigerian troops should be prosecuted for the killings in Zaria last December. IMN leader Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky was shot and then detained during the crackdown and remains in custody.

Meanwhile, last year’s Shia procession from Kano to Zaria saw more than 20 people killed in an attack by a suicide bomber from the Boko Haram Sunni Islamist militant group.

Security forces were ordered to stay away from last year’s procession following deadly clashes in previous years. BBC News