Human rights campaign group, Amnesty International, after carrying out investigation has released its report on the Zaria clash last year between Shiite supporters of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria and the Nigerian army between December 12 – 14 last year.
Hundreds were killed by Nigerian soldiers after the Shiite Muslims were accused of setting a trap to assassinate the head of the Nigerian army, Lt. Gen. Tukur Buratai.
In its latest report, Amnesty International directly accuses the Nigerian military of attempting to cover up the massacre by razing buildings and hiding bodies in mass graves.
The report also accuses Nigeria’s soldiers of committing shocking atrocities against the Shiites in Zaria, including murdering woman and children and burning people alive. “The true horror of what happened over those two days in Zaria is only now coming to light.
Bodies were left littered in the streets and piled outside the mortuary.
Some of the injured were burned alive,” said Netsanet Belay, Amnesty International’s Research and Advocacy Director for Africa.
“Our research, based on witness testimonies and analysis of satellite images, has located one possible mass grave. It is time now for the military to come clean and admit where it secretly buried hundreds of bodies.”
Also in the report, Amnesty International cites several eye witness who describe seeing Nigerian soldiers commit numerous atrocities, including murdering injured and helpless people.
One mother described a phone conversation with one of her 19-year-old sons before he was killed alongside his twin brother and their step brother and sister in the compound.
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“They are shooting those injured one by one,” he told her. As soldiers set fire to the makeshift medical facility in the compound that afternoon, Yusuf managed to escape despite serious gunshot wounds:
“Those who were badly injured and could not escape were burned alive,” he told Amnesty International.
“I managed to get away from the fire by crawling on my knees until I reached a nearby house where I was able to hide until the following day.
I don’t know how many of the wounded were burned to death.”
Another witness told the organisation how he had seen diggers excavating holes at the site of a suspected mass grave: “There were five or six large trucks and several smaller military vehicles and they spent hours digging and unloading the trucks’ cargo into the hole they dug and then covered it again with the earth they had dug out.”
“They were there from about 1 or 2 am until about 5 am. I don’t know what they buried. It looked like bodies, but I could not get near.”
Amnesty International is calling on the Nigerian government to try those Shiites currently before the courts fairly and to bring those responsible for the killings in Zaria to justice.