Deaths as security forces clash with Shia protesters - MEDIA NEWS: ankobenmedia

Tuesday, 23 July 2019

Deaths as security forces clash with Shia protesters

At least four people were killed in the capital following clashes between security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, according to the Shia group.

Demonstrators again took to the streets of Abuja on Monday demanding the release of their leader Ibrahim el-Zakzaky - in detention since 2015 - following reports of worsening health conditions of both he and his wife who is also being held. 

Mahdi Garba, a member of the Shia movement, told Al Jazeera that Monday's protest started peacefully with supporters chanting "Free Zakzaky" but their members were attacked by the police. 

"The total number of casualties is yet to be ascertained but for now four persons confirmed dead and many injured," Garba said. 

Another eyewitness said police fired live ammunition and tear gas canisters at the protesters in an area that houses the parliament building, executive, and judicial arm. 

"Shots were fired as I came out of a building in the central area, which was packed with civil servants during their lunch break," Fakhuus Hashim, who witnessed the clashes, told Al Jazeera. 

"Everyone started running and more shots were fired. They [protesters] burned the fire service station beside the ministry of foreign affairs," he added.

Nigerian police said a senior officer was killed and three other policemen were injured during street battles.

"The heavily armed protesters ... violently attacked innocent citizens and police personnel on duty. In the process, the deputy commissioner of police ... was shot and fatally injured by the protesters," a police statement said.

Fifty-four suspects face charges, it said.

"Bullets will not stop them. They will not stop until their leader is released. In fact, more violence from the state will create radicals and further make mediation difficult," Abdullahi Murtala, a security analyst with the Abuja-based Goro Initiative, told Al Jazeera. 

Murtala said the deteriorating health of the group's leader is fuelling resolve and amplifying their frustration. 

"Have you seen the protesters? Young men and women driven by ideology and willing to die for the cause," he said.


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