Abuja – A rights group has condemned the recent killing of hundreds of Shiite members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria in Zaria, Kaduna State by the military, saying the incident was "wholly unjustified".
In a statement on its website, the Human Rights Watch (HRW) said at least 300 Shiites were likely killed and hundreds more injured in raids in the northern town of Zaria on December 12-14.
The army said it acted after Shiites tried to block the convoy of Nigeria's army chief — a charge the Shiites denied.
HWR said it interviewed 16 witnesses to the killings, who revealed soldiers quickly buried the bodies in mass graves without family members’ permission, making it difficult to determine an accurate death toll.
“The Nigerian military’s version of events does not stack up,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
“It is almost impossible to see how a roadblock by angry young men could justify the killings of hundreds of people. At best it was a brutal overreaction and at worst it was a planned attack on the minority Shia group.”