The United States on Friday voiced its concern over the death of shi’ites members after their clash with police and what it termed as disproportionate response of police in violence.
The police reported that Nine members were killed in the clashes during which officers opened fire on the Islamic Movement of Nigeria taking part in a procession in the northern part of Kano on Monday, but the minority sect said dozens were killed.
Security experts have drawn a parallel line between the IMN and boko haram, the sunni muslim jihadist group whose insurgency began in 2009.
The violence was the latest in a series of incidents involving the minority sect. A judicial inquiry in August reported that 347 IMN members have been killed and buried in mass graves after clashes with the Army in December 2015, and 2 sect members were killed in processions in Kaduna State in October.
“The United States is deeply concerned by the death of dozen of Nigerians during clashes between individuals participating in a shia procession and Nigerian Police force in Kano State,” a statement by U.S diplomatic mission in Nigeria said.
“While the matter is still under investigation, we are troubled by the apparent disproportionate response by the police,” said the statement, issued by spokesman John Kirby, who also called for “calm and restraints on all sides”.
The U.S said the Nigerian government should conduct an investigation and ” bring to account anyone responsible for violating the law”.
Last month, the government of Kaduna which is next Kano state declared the sect as an “unlawful society” on the ground that its processions was a danger to peace, and said anyone convicted of being a member could face a jail sentence of up to seven years.
Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation of 180 million inhabitants combined a predominantly christian south and mainly sunni muslims north.
Human rights watch estimates that IMN, whose 1980s founder were inspired by the Islamic revolution shi’ites Iran, has around 3 million members. The sect’s leader, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakyzaky, has been held without charges since December.