Lagos – Amnesty International said it had
unearthed damning evidence of severe human rights violations against the
military in Zaria.
In a blood-curdling report released on Thursday, the international
rights group claims mass slaughter of hundreds of victims, including children.
Amnesty said evidence gathered on the ground revealed how
the Nigerian military burned and buried people alive, razed buildings and
dumped victims’ bodies in mass graves.
The report, Unearthing the truth: Unlawful killings and mass
cover-up in Zaria” contains eyewitness testimony of large-scale unlawful
killings by the military and exposes a crude attempt by the authorities to
destroy and conceal evidence, said the organisation.
The clashes between the military and Shia Muslim community
of Zaria in Kaduna State took place from December 12.
“The true horror of what happened over those two days in
Zaria is only now coming to light,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s
Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.
“Bodies were left littered in the streets and piled outside
Also read: Army accused of defiling Shi'ite women during Zaria
Some of the injured were burned alive.”
More than 350 people are believed to have been unlawfully
killed by the military in Zaria following a confrontation between members of
the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) and soldiers.
IMN supporters - some armed with batons, knives, and
machetes - had refused to clear the road near their headquarters, the
Hussainiyya, for a military convoy to pass.
The army has claimed that IMN supporters attacked the convoy
in an attempt to assassinate the Chief of Army Staff, Tukur Buratai.
IMN members deny this.
Following an initial confrontation the military surrounded
other locations where IMN supporters had gathered, notably at the residential
compound of IMN leader Ibrahim Al-Zakzaky.
Some people were killed as a result of indiscriminate fire.
Others appeared to have been deliberately targeted.
Amnesty said all available information indicates that the
deaths of protestors were the consequence of excessive, and arguably,
unnecessary use of force.
“It is clear that the military not only used unlawful and
excessive force against men, women and children, unlawfully killing hundreds,
but then made considerable efforts to try to cover-up these crimes,” said
Amnesty has previously accused the military of human rights
violations in the fight against the Boko Haram but these have been denied.
- CAJ News