Supporters of an imprisoned Shiite cleric clashed Tuesday with security forces around Nigeria’s parliament building, leaving a number of wounded, including two police, the authorities and witneses said.
Two officers were shot in the legs and six others hit with clubs and stones as members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) tried to “force their way into the National Assembly,” police said.
Witnesses told reporters that protesters seized a rifle from a police officer manning the main entrance to the assembly, located in the country’s institutional capital Abuja.
“They seized the rifle from one of them and shot another policeman standing close by,” one witness said.
“The guy shot was only injured and he was quickly rushed to the National Assembly clinic along with the guy whose rifle was seized because he sustained some bruising in the head as a result of the attack,” the witness said.
Security forces responded by firing at the protesters, wounding some of them, witnesses said.
The police said 40 IMN members were arrested.
A journalist saw traces of blood on the road leading to the assembly and cars with their windscreens smashed by fleeing demonstrators.
The National Assembly hurriedly suspended its plenary session due to the violence.
Pro-Iranian cleric, Ibrahim Zakzaky has been in government custody since fighting between his supporters and the army broke out in December 2015.
Zakzaky’s supporters have repeatedly protested in Abuja and several northern cities against the continued detention of their leader.
In October, the IMN and human rights groups said more than 40 people were killed when the security forces opened fire on crowds on the outskirts of the capital.
The army maintained six people died and that soldiers acted in self-defence.
Zakzaky has been at loggerheads with Nigeria’s secular authorities for years because of his call for an Iranian-style Islamic revolution.
Meanwhile, northern Nigeria is majority Sunni Muslim.
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