PICTURES: Nigerian Military Embarks On Full Crackdown On ‘Shia’ Muslims Celebrating Ashura In Kaduna

Nigerian military personnel have begun arresting and detaining Shiite Muslims in Kaduna State during celebrations of the holy month of Muharram.

The government banned the Shiite Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), citing it as an outlawed group, on Friday, and since then has cracked down on Shiites throughout Kaduna State. The ban spans Kaduna State and prohibits membership of the organization.

On Monday, Nigerian soldiers surrounded a Shiite mosque in Kaduna State, preventing the worshippers from leaving. The Shiite Muslims had gathered to celebrate Muharram, an Islamic month particularly important to the Shiite sect.

According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC), at least 15 IMN members, including women and children, were arrested on Monday night while on their way to attend Muharram festivities. Other worshippers were brutally repressed by soldiers, who fired tear gas to disperse the group. According to an eyewitness account, at least one person was shot with live ammunition, while several others suffered injuries.

Over the weekend, at least twenty Shiites were arrested while attending Muharram celebrations, while an arrest warrant was issued for Ibrahim Musa, a prominent spokesperson for IMN.

Nigerian Shiite Muslims have been protesting the government for its illegal detention of IMN leader Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, who was illegally arrested, beaten, and detained during the December 2015 Zaria massacre, in which at least 347 Shiites were killed.