Nigeria under attack for Shiite killings in Zaria

Amnesty International and US call for investigation into Zaria killings.

The United States and Amnesty International are calling for an investigation of what has been defined as a “substantial loss of life” among Shiite Muslims in an attack by the Nigerian military in the northern university city of Zaria in Kaduna state.

The US embassy has called on the Nigerian government for a speedy, credible and transparent investigation in to the events.

Precise numbers of those killed are not obtainable as the area has been cordoned off by the military who have started to bury the dead. It is thought that the Shiite leader and founder of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), Ibrahim Zakzaky, has been wounded, is now in military custody and that one of his wives and two of his sons have been killed.

The army's official line is that its troops opened fire when some 500 Shiites blocked the convoy of the head of the army.

Nigeria is at present attempting to stamp out Boko Haram terrorists in the north-east of the country who are at odds with the more moderate views of IMN.

It was the IMN, led by Zakzaky, that introduced Shia Islam in Nigeria in the 1980s, where most of the Muslims were Sunnis. Muslims make up about 50 per cent of the total population of about 178 million.

Iran, which supports the IMN, has also called on Nigeria's president, Muhammadu Buhari, who is a Sunni, for a full investigation and compensation for the victims.

So far Buhari's government has not commented on the killings.