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New York Times’ video shows Nigerian Army shooting unarmed Shiite protesters

The New York Times, a US-based newspaper, has published a new video that reveals how Nigerian soldiers shot unarmed Shiite Muslims protesting the prolonged detention of their leader, Sheikh Ibrahim El Zakzaky.

The Nigerian Army had admitted killing six members of the Islamic sect between October 27 and October 29, 2018.

The army said that the protesting Shiites were armed with stones and petrol bombs which they used to attack soldiers.

Contradicting the claims of the army, the New York Times said a video which it had obtained showed that the soldiers shot at civilians who were fleeing the scene.

The report reads, “But a close review of video from the largest and most deadly of the protests, as well as interviews with more than a dozen witnesses, clearly shows the military opening fire on unarmed demonstrators, sometimes shooting indiscriminately into the crowd at close range as people turned and tried to flee.

“Photos and videos recorded that day show at least 26 bodies. The group said it had collected a total of 49 bodies during four days of protests.

“The killings are the latest example of a military that for years has been accused of human rights abuses, with rarely any punishment or action taken, despite President Muhammadu Buhari’s promises to crack down on military violations and restore security in the country.”

According to New York Times, some of the corpses had bullet wounds at the back, indicating that they were shot while fleeing.

“The melee began that day as more than 1,000 marchers approached a military checkpoint. Soldiers arrived to block off the road. An armoured vehicle with high-calibre weapons patrolled the highway. After soldiers began to fire, they targeted protesters fleeing the chaos. Many of the injured were shot in the back or legs,” the report stated.

The newspaper noted that the killing of Shiite protesters six weeks ago generated little outrage in the country as neither Buhari nor members of the opposition condemned the killings.

The Islamic Movement in Nigeria, founded about four decades ago and inspired by the Iranian Revolution, has been repeatedly labelled a terrorist threat. In Kaduna, where many of the members live, the group is barred from protesting or assembling.

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