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Security agencies clash with Shiite protesters again despite promise of normalcy

Members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) has again clashed with security agencies, this time at the Wuse II area of Abuja, thus continuing a four-day violent protest across several parts of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

This is coming barely hours after the Nigerian army issued a statement saying that normalcy has returned to the FCT after a similar clash on Monday that led to the death of three protesters and a massive traffic gridlock along the Abuja-Keffi expressway.

The Shiite protests which started since Saturday at the Zuba axis of Abuja have led to the death of at least six members of the Shiite group while several others, including some soldiers, sustained various degrees of injuries. However, other reports including the CNN, have it that the number of casualties was higher.

Videos circulating on the social media on Tuesday afternoon showed the Shiite protesters hauling stones on the policemen who threw tear gas at them while shooting into the air to scare them away. The protesters were also alleged to have set a police patrol vehicle ablaze.

A police patrol vehicle allegedly set on fire by the protesting Shiite members at the Wuse II area of Abuja on Tuesday. Photo credit: ThePunch

Also, some residents said the Shiite members were sighted around the Karu-Nyanya axis where they had clashed with the army on Monday.

The Nigerian Army earlier today in a  press release said that the soldiers had to open fire on the protesters because they started attacking them first using crude weapons such as cutlasses, catapults and the likes.

“They fired weapons at our troops, throwing bottle canisters with fuel, large stones, catapults with dangerous items at troops causing bodily harm and stopping motorist movement, breaking their windscreen and causing heavy traffic,” the statement read.

Members of the Shiite movement have been holding protests in Abuja for some time now, demanding for the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky, who has been in the custody of the Department of State Services since the December of 2015.

El-Zakzaky was arrested after his members clashed with soldiers in Zaria during one of the group’s protests. More than 300 of the Shiite movement were killed in that clash, while the army lost one soldier, according to a panel of inquiry set up by the Kaduna State government.

A Federal High Court sitting in Abuja had awarded monetary damages against the federal government for continuing to detain El-Zakzaky without charging him. The court also ruled that El-Zakzaky should be released and that the government should provide an accommodation for him in any Northern State of his choice.

The judgement, which was delivered by Justice Gabriel Kolawole on December 2, 2016, is yet to be carried out.

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