Amnesty International issued a press release today calling for an urgent investigation into the “slaughter and secret burial of 347 members of a Shi’ite religious group in mass graves by the Nigerian army.” Their statement follows testimony yesterday by a Kaduna State government official admitting that the military presided over the dumping of 347 civilians into mass graves after being killed by soldiers in Zaria.

Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky after being attacked by the Nigerian military

SaharaReporters reported yesterday that Balarabe Lawal, the Secretary to the Kaduna State Government, stated at the public hearing of the Judicial Commission of Inquiry into the massacre that the 347 civilians were deposited into secret mass graves.

Amnesty International’s Nigeria Country Director, MK Ibrahim, stated that “The horrific revelation by the Kaduna State government that hundreds of Shi’ites were gunned down and dumped in mass graves is an important first step to bringing all those suspected of criminal responsibility for this atrocity to trial.”

He added that “it is now imperative that the mass grave sites are protected in order that a full independent forensic investigation can begin. The bodies must be exhumed and Nigerian authorities should immediately reveal the whereabouts of those held in unacknowledged detention and either charge or release them.”

The military’s massacre of Shi'ite Muslims in Zaria lasted from December 12th to December 14th 2015, according to SaharaReporters investigations and witness testimony. The military destroyed numerous sites of worship for the Shi'ite community and abducted the leader of the Shiite community Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who remains in custody with severe injuries.

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