Nigerian Shiites wounded in military raids are dying in military and police detention because they are being denied medical care, the Shiite Islamic Movement in Nigeria charged Monday.
Spokesman Ibrahim Musa also said the Kaduna state government is destroying property of the movement, which has millions of followers. He said a school and a shrine were bulldozed Monday.
His allegations come as the guardian of Nigeria’s Muslims, Sultan Muhammad Sa’ad Abubakar of Sokoto, warned the government against actions that could radicalize other Muslims in a country that already has lost 20,000 lives to the Boko Haram Islamic uprising.
“The history of the circumstances that engendered the outbreak of militant insurgency in the past, with cataclysmic consequences that Nigeria is yet to recover from, should not be allowed to repeat itself,” said a statement from the sultan, who is president of the Nigerian Supreme Council for Islamic Affairs.
Boko Haram re-emerged as a much more violent entity after security forces attacked their mosque and compound and killed some 700 people in 2009.
Human rights activists say Nigerian troops killed many hundreds of Shiites in raids in the northern town of Zaria over three days Dec. 12-14. The army says it acted after Shiites tried to block the convoy of Nigeria’s army chief — a charge the Shiites deny.
It’s impossible to say how many died in Zaria as the military sealed the area for days and Musa has charged that soldiers buried bodies in mass graves to hide the true toll.
Musa’s statement Monday said two wounded members died in detention on Sunday. He said they believe at least 40 wounded members are detained without medical care. Those detained include Ibraheem Zakzaky, who started Nigeria’s Shiite movement 37 years ago.
Hundreds of Shiites held a peaceful protest in Kano, Nigeria’s second largest city in the north, to demand the release of Zakzaky and other detainees.
Musa also said police have handed the movement the bodies of 12 detained members who were wounded in a protest in Kaduna city Dec. 15. Police say they acted to prevent an attack on a police station and that they only shot tear gas into the air to disperse the demonstrators.