Five members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were shot dead by security operatives in Abuja on Tuesday, while 300 members of the group have also been declared missing.

The sect had embarked on a protest on Tuesday to end its annual 'Arbaeen Symbolic Trek'. They gained entry into the city centre by boarding commercial vehicles instead of their usual trek in the bid to evade security operatives, who were positioned at strategic locations around the city.

The Tuesday march was schelduled to end at the Unity Fountain near Transcorp Hilton Hotel.

However, when security operatives realised that the mob had succeeded in entering the city, they mobilised for reinforcement to prevent them from reaching the fountain.

The protesters engaged the Police in a hide-and-seek game and went through Ademola Adetokunbo Way. The Police eventually fired teargas canisters at the protesters at Abia House, which led to commotion, as the group responded with stones concealed in their bags.

The protetsters set a Police patrol vehicle ablaze in retaliation, while the occupants abandoned the vehicle for their safety. The situation forced the Police to open fire on the protesters. While some persons lost their lives, others were injured and more were arrested.

Spokesperson of the group, Abdullahi Muhammadu Musa, told journalists that the group was able to recover only one dead body. He, however, added that many corpses were taken away by the Police, and declared more than 300 members of the group missing. 

He asked the Police to release the remaining four bodies that were taken away during the mayhem and warned against mass burial for their members. He put the total number of those that were killed since the beginning of the protest at 47.

He said: "They killed six members on Saturday and killed 36 on Monday. Five people lost their lives today, Tuesday."

"They are trying to instill fear in us with this killing, so that we will stop challenging the government. But they have failed; we are not going to stop. This has shown that this government is intolerant of whoever challenges oppression, but I can tell you that they are coming after other Nigerians."

He, however, said the Tuesday protest marked the end of the 'Arbaeen Symbolic Trek', but noted that the group would continue with the daily protest until government releases their leader, Ibraheem El-Zakzaky.

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