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US urges Nigeria to probe recent killings of Shiite protesters by security personnel

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THE Embassy of the United States of America in Nigeria has urged the federal government to investigate the recent deaths resulting from the clashes between security agencies and Shiite protesters in Abuja.

Official figures by the Nigerian authorities put the number of casualties at six, but other reports, including by Amnesty International, say the number is far higher.

In a statement on its website on Thursday, the U.S. Embassy said it is “concerned by the deaths resulting from clashes between Nigerian security forces and members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in areas surrounding Abuja”.

“We urge Government of Nigeria authorities to conduct a thorough investigation of the events and to take appropriate action to hold accountable those responsible for violations of Nigerian law. We urge restraint on all sides.”

In its report on Wednesday, Amnesty International had condemned what it described as the excessive use of force by security operatives on the Shiite Muslims whom the group said were observing a “peaceful procession”.

“We have seen a shocking and unconscionable use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members. Video footage and eyewitness testimonies consistently show that the Nigerian military dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition without warning, in clear violation of Nigerian and international law,” said Osai Ojigho, Director of Amnesty International Nigeria.

“Those injured were shot in different parts of the body – head, neck, back, chest, shoulder, legs, arms – and some of them had multiple gunshot wounds. This pattern clearly shows soldiers and police approached IMN processions not to restore public order, but to kill.”

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The Shiite group were protesting the continued detention of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky who has been held by the Department of State Services (DSS) since December 2015, in spite of a court judgement ordering his release.

Many of the protesters were arrested during the protest and 120 of them were arraigned in court on Thursday.

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