The Iranian Foreign Ministry has condemned the killing of Muslims in Nigeria, saying it is a “worrisome and unacceptable” move.
“The repetition of the brutal killing of Muslims in a peaceful religious gathering, which was devoid of any threat and violence, is cause of concern and unacceptable,” Iranian Foreign Ministry Spokesman Bahram Qassemi said on Tuesday.
He urged the Nigerian officials to exercise more vigilance against any act of violence and strife and adopt serious measures to prevent the recurrence of such crimes.
There are reports that nearly 100 people were killed and hundreds more injured after the Nigerian armed forces opened fire on a group of followers of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), the country’s largest Shia group, in the northern city of Kano on Monday, the movement said.
The casualties were caused after soldiers fired live rounds and tear gas at mourners during a peaceful march held ahead of the upcoming Arba’een mourning rituals, which mark 40 days after the martyrdom anniversary of Imam Hussein, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad.
Reports have it that violence broke out when police tried to disperse thousands of people, including women and children, who were marching from Kano to Kaduna state for the mourning rituals. Nigerian forces claimed they opened fire on the crowd after one of their officers was hurt.
The latest deadly attack on the mourning march comes despite a letter by the London-based Islamic Human Rights Commission (IHRC) that had called on the government of President Muhammadu Buhari to ensure the safety of the IMN followers during the Arba’een commemorations.
Followers of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria have been subjected to heavy-handed crackdown since last year when the army attacked a religious ceremony in their stronghold of Zaria in the north.
In December 2015, Nigerian forces raided the house of the IMN’s leader, Sheikh Zakzaky, and arrested him after killing those attempting to protect him, including one of the movement’s senior leaders and its spokesman.
The sheikh himself was shot seven times during the attacks and blinded in one eye and still remains in custody of the army.
The raid occurred a day after Nigerian soldiers attacked a group of Muslims attending a ceremony at a religious center in the city of Zaria, accusing them of blocking the convoy of the army’s chief of staff and attempting to assassinate him.
The Islamic Human Rights Commission released a report, saying the Nigerian army killed 348 Muslims during the attack on the religious ceremony.