The Nigerian military has been condemned by numerous human rights organizations and foreign countries for massacring Shiite Muslims in Zaria this past weekend.
SaharaReporters published several stories this week about the Zaria massacre, and subsequent violence against civilians, on Saturday and Sunday. The Nigerian military has claimed that their troops were merely trying to protect Chief of Army Staff Tukur Buratai from assassination.
However, the Shiite group the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) stated that their members were conducting a peaceful protest when they were fired on by Nigerian troops.
The number of dead has also been a highly contested topic. IMN claimed that more than 800 of its members were slaughtered by Nigerian soldiers. Yesterday, SaharaReporters published a report citing claims by the ABU Teaching Hospital that they had received at least 60 bodies following the massacre over the weekend.
On Monday, Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) issued a press release condemning the massacre of Shiites in Zaria, as well as the shooting of the leader of the IMN, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky.
Amnesty International called for an investigation into the killing of Shiites.
“An impartial investigation is urgently needed into these killings. Anyone responsible for unlawful killings should be brought to justice,” the Director of Amnesty International, Nigeria, M.K. Ibrahim said.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) confirmed it would be organizing a special panel to investigate the massacre. The panel is made up of top management staff in legal, investigations and monitoring departments is headed by a lawyer, Mr. Tony Ojukwu, who is the Director, Monitoring Department of the commission.
Already the Nigerian army has submitted a letter of complaint against the Shiite sect they claimed attacked them on Saturday to the NHRC panel.
The US Embassy in Abuja issued a statement on Wednesday that echoed calls for an investigatory probe.
“The United States calls on the Government of Nigeria to quickly, credibly, and transparently investigate these events in Zaria and hold to account any individuals found to have committed crimes,” the statement read in part.
Iran, the preeminent Shiite power in the world, has strongly condemned the massacre. After learning about the attack the Nigerian envoy to Iran was immediately recalled to the offices of the Iranian Foreign Minister, Mohammad Javad Zarif.