Police fired guns and teargas in a clash with a protesting Shi’ite Muslim group in Nigeria’s capital city Abuja, Reuters witnesses saw on Thursday. Two Reuters witnesses heard gunshots and one saw policemen fire their weapons in an effort to disperse hundreds who gathered outside government buildings to demand the release of their leader.
The Reuters witness said it did not appear the police were aiming at protesters, but they appeared to be firing live rounds. The confrontation comes two days after clashes with police left at least two dead and 40 protesters in police custody.
Protesters ran and threw stones as police tried to disperse the crowds. A witness saw police arrest at least a dozen protesters. A police spokesman did not respond to a phone call or text messages requesting comment.
The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN), a group that represents Nigeria’s minority Shi’ite Muslims, has said they will continue protesting until they secure the release of their leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been in detention since 2015. On Tuesday, Nigeria’s National Assembly went into lockdown after gunshots erupted during a violent confrontation between the sides. Each side blamed the other for the gunfire.