Accessibility links

Shi'ites: Nigerian Soldiers Kill 12, Besiege Islamic Movement

Soldiers besieging the home of the leader of a Shi'ite movement accused of trying to assassinate Nigeria's army chief have shot and killed at least 12 people, the Islamic group said early Sunday.

About 30 people have been wounded in the ongoing attack that began late Saturday in the city of Zaria in northern Nigeria and continued into early Sunday, Zeenah Ibrahim, the wife of the group's leader, told The Associated Press in a phone call interrupted by the sounds of gunfire.

Army spokesman Col. Sani Usman said the Shiites on Saturday afternoon attacked the convoy of Gen. Tukur Buratai.

"The sect numbering hundreds, carrying dangerous weapons, barricaded the roads with bonfires, heavy stones and tires," Usman said in a statement. "They refused all entreaties to disperse and then started firing and pelting the convoy with dangerous objects ... in a deliberate attempt to assassinate" the army chief.

Spokesman Nasir Umar Tsafe of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria said seven people died there, including four wounded whom he said soldiers refused to allow through a barricade to get medical care.

Later Saturday, Ibrahim said, soldiers surrounded her home in a "pre-planned attack to assassinate the sheikh," Ibraheem Zakzaky.

His movement two weeks ago suffered a suicide bombing, claimed by Boko Haram extremists, in the middle of a procession that killed 22 people.

Boko Haram often attacks Muslims who preach against its radical vision of Islam. The group emerged as a violent Islamic uprising after Nigerian armed forces in 2009 attacked its headquarters in the northeastern city of Maiduguri, killed about 700 people and arrested and then killed its leader.

Six years later, the Boko Haram insurgency has killed some 20,000 people and forced 2.3 million from their homes.

Ibrahim emphasized that her husband's Shiite movement is peaceful and opposed to Boko Haram's violence.

(Associated Press writer Godwin Isenyo contributed to this report from Kaduna, Nigeria.)