Over a period of three days, from December 12 to December 14, military forces of the government of President Muhammadu Buhari slaughtered hundreds of, perhaps more than a thousand, Shia Muslims at three sites in Nigeria’s Kaduna State.
According to a report on the World Socialist Web Site, witnesses interviewed by Human Rights Watch claimed that soldiers systematically shot civilians at the Shia burial ground, at the home of its leader in Gyellesu, and at the Hussainia Baqiyyatullah religious center. Hundreds of wounded were held in military detention and refused medical care.
The Buhari government has had little to say about the massacre other than referring to an alleged roadblock of a military convoy by political dissidents.
“The Nigerian military’s version of events does not stack up,” Human Rights Watch’s Africa chief Daniel Bekele said. “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.”
Among the wounded are religious and political leader Ibrahim Zakzaky, one of whose sons was killed in the massacre. Zakzaky is the head of the dissident Islamic Movement of Nigeria. In a statement after the attacks, Zakzaky’s daughter, Nusaibah El-Zakzaky, said, “My father has never identified himself as a leader of a sect, or the Islamic movement as a sect. The Islamic movement’s main agenda was to fight the injustice of the system that we are forced to live under in this country.”
Buhari, a former military dictator of the country following a coup in 1983, came to power earlier this year with the assistance of American consulting firm AKPD, owned by David Axelrod, advisor to US President Barak Obama. US military operations in Nigeria and West Africa have increased dramatically in recent years, and the Pentagon has announced plans to build one large base and several smaller bases in the region. Nigeria is Africa’s most populous country and has both its largest economy and largest oil reserves.
Sources: “US-Backed Nigerian Military Massacres Hundreds in Shia Minority,” World Socialist Web Site