Amnesty International on Friday accused Nigeria’s military of deliberately shooting dead more than 350 Shiite Muslims, burying them in mass graves and destroying evidence of the crime.
The rights group also dismissed as baseless army claims that the protesters from the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) group wanted to kill the head of the army before the clashes last December.
The military, which has been repeatedly accused of abuses against civilians in its fight against Sunni Muslim jihadists Boko Haram, has maintained its troops acted appropriately.
Defence spokesman Brigadier General Rabe Abubakar said Amnesty’s report was “unfair” as the military had not been consulted before its publication.
“If they have proper evidence let them bring it out for all to see. We cannot confront law-abiding citizens,” he told AFP.
“Whoever we confronted must have been a criminal and enemy of the state.”
There have been fears the military action against the Shiite group in Zaria could trigger another violent uprising similar to that of Boko Haram, whose insurgency has left some 20,000 dead since 2009.
Amnesty’s report — “Unearthing the truth: unlawful killings and mass cover-up in Zaria” — comes in the wake of conflicting claims about the violence in the northern city.
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