At least eight people have been reportedly killed after some unidentified men opened fire at members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) known better as as shi’ites in Abuja.
As gathered, the gunmen who dressed in military uniform opened fire on the religious group members during their annual Arbaeen trek at Gwarinpa district of Abuja, the nation’s capital.
It was learnt that the gunmen attacked the sect members near the tricycle park at 3rd avenue, Gwarinpa around 10:00 am. Before the Gwarinpa procession, the Shi’ites had staged a similar street procession in Nyanya – Mararaba axis of the FCT.
During the ‘spiritual walk’, some members of the sect were armed with placards with different inscriptions, including portraits of the sons of their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, who were killed during the ‘Zaria Massacre’ of December 2015.
Confirming the attack on Tuesday, the Secretary of IMN’s Academic Forum, Abdullahi Musa, attributed the attack to security operatives, saying it was surprising their members were been attacked when the walk was purely religious and not anti-government protest.
Musa, who did not give any casualty figures, explained that the Arbaeen trek was an annual street demonstration by Shi’ites globally, and that the processions were for spiritual purposes and not of worldly affairs.
“Since the military authorities demolished our Centre in Zaria, we have been leading the religious trek from here (Abuja). It began on Monday. However, we had hoped to conclude the activities today (Tuesday).
“So, we assembled at the Galadima gate (Charly Boy bus stop) in Gwarinpa around 9:00am, and staged our religious walk peacefully for about an hour. We neither made any demand on the government nor criticised anyone during the trek. It was purely a spiritual exercise for us.
“But as we were about to disperse, security operatives arrived the scene and opened fire on our members, injuring many and killing some people. As for the casualty figures, I need to verify the numbers and get back to you, please,” he told journalists.