The Nigerian army has been accused of massacring a large number of Shia Muslims in the town of Zaria in Nigeria’s northwestern Kaduna state over the course of three days earlier this month. Shia sources say hundreds, perhaps as many as 1,000, have been killed in fighting, but those numbers could not be confirmed independently.
The Nigerian authorities claim that members of the radical Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) had attempted to assassinate the Nigerian Army Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai on Dec. 12 when his motorcade was passing through a Shia procession.
The incident suggests just how fractured and extensive unrest can be in Nigeria’s deep interior, far from Lagos, the thriving commercial hub of Africa’s biggest economy.
The clashes in this case were not between security forces and the infamous terrorist forces of Boko Haram, a radical Sunni Muslim group now affiliated with the so-called Islamic State. This group is led by converts to Shia Islam originally inspired by the Iranian Revolution in 1979.