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30 Oct 2018

Why Soldiers Opened Fire On Shiite Protesters In Abuja - Nigerian Army Speaks

The Nigerian Army on Monday night admitted its personnel fired live ammunition at Shiite protesters on the outskirts of Abuja on Monday afternoon, killing at least three protesters who allegedly tried to breach a security checkpoint.

The violence that broke out in Karu, a densely populated suburb of the nation’s capital, gripped Abuja and its environs on Monday afternoon, with vehicular and human movements in and out of the axis virtually grounded for the rest of the day.

According to PREMIUM TIMES, two witnesses who live in the area and spoke under strict anonymity for fear of security agencies’ backlash estimated between 16 and 22 people were killed. Most of those killed were Shiite protesters, while the rest were passersby or elderly caught in the mayhem while out on their individual businesses.

It was the second time Nigerian soldiers encountered Shiite protesters in two days. Nigerian soldiers opened fire during a Shiite procession in Zuba, another suburb of Abuja, on Saturday afternoon. The military denied being the aggressor in the violence, which witnesses said left many protesters dead. In that incident, the army also admitted three Shiites were killed.

The army said its personnel conveying military equipment were waylaid by the Shiites in the Saturday encounter, during which some soldiers were brutalised with stones and sharp objects. No soldier was killed during the encounter.

In a Facebook post at about 10:40 p.m. on Monday, the army explained similar circumstances played out in the violent encounter with Shiites earlier in the day. The statement said soldiers unleashed their firearms on the protesters after they became violent and started shooting stones with catapult, wounding four soldiers in the process.

The army said the protesters repeatedly lobbed Molotov cocktails at troops and police officers manning the security checkpoint near the overhead bridge in Karu, and uploaded pictures of wounded soldiers, catapults, stones and Dane guns allegedly recovered from the protesters.

“The sect in massive numbers forced their way into the troops checkpoint after overrunning the Police Force. The Police withdrew back to own troops position to join efforts to repel them.

“They fired weapons at own troops, throwing bottle canisters with fuel, large stones, catapults with dangerous objects and other dangerous items at troops causing bodily harm and stopping motorist movement, breaking their windscreen and causing heavy traffic,” the army said of the incident, which it estimated broke out at 3:00 p.m.

“However, Troops repelled the attack in conjunction with the Nigerian Police Force to stop the situation from further deteriorating.

“Unfortunately, during the encounter 3 members of the sect were killed while 4 soldiers sustained various degrees of injuries and are being treated at a military medical facility,” the army said.

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The statement said calm has returned to the area and vehicular and human traffic no more hectic as of the time of its statement late Monday.

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