Nigeria's Restive North (19 pics)




“Piles of rubble are all that remain of the residence of Nigeria's most prominent Shi'ite Muslim leader after it was demolished by bulldozers in the northern city of Zaria. Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky's compound was levelled after three days of clashes between the army and Shi'ite residents of the city in December in which rights groups say hundreds of Shi'ites were killed. The army declined to give a Shi'ite death toll but said one soldier was killed and five were wounded. The violence and its repercussions could further fracture a country battling a northern insurgency by hardline Sunni group Boko Haram, a secessionist movement in the southeast, militancy in the oil-rich Delta, as well as a growing economic crisis. The clashes were the deadliest in living memory involving security forces and the minority Shi'ite community, say some Shi'ites and rights groups. Diplomats said the violence risked spawning a radical Shi'ite militant wing – much like the Boko Haram uprising began in 2009 after security forces killed hundreds of its members and its leader Mohammed Yusuf died in custody. Boko Haram, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State, has killed thousands of people and driven more than 2 million from their homes in Nigeria's poor north. Africa's most populous nation, led by President Muhammadu Buhari, is home to around 180 million – roughly evenly split between Christians, mainly in the south, and Muslims, mostly in the north and predominantly Sunni. Shi'ites are estimated to number under 4 million, according to a 2009 report by the U.S.-based Pew Research Center, but there are no official figures. Zaria, 270 km north of the capital Abuja, is a predominantly Sunni city with a population of about 500,000. It is a focus for inter-community tensions because it is also the spiritual centre of Shi'ite sect the Islamic Movement in Nigeria as home to its leader Zakzaky. Human Rights Watch estimates there are around 3 million members of the sect, a religious and political movement inspired by Iran's 1979 Islamic Revolution, which would represent most Shi'ites in the West African country”. – Afolabi Sotunde and Ulf Laessing via Reuters

Two girls dressed in hijabs walk away from a house along the railway line in Zaria, in Kaduna state,

Two girls dressed in hijabs walk away from a house along the railway line in Zaria, in Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. Sectarian tensions are rising in Nigeria's Muslim north, where hundreds of Shi'ites were killed in clashes with the army in the town of Zaria in December, according to Shi'ites and rights groups. Following the clashes, bulldozers sent by the state levelled Shi'ite shrines, a cemetery and offices in the deeply divided town. The region is already grappling with an insurgency waged by the jihadist Boko Haram group. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A man carrying an axe walks past a house marked with bullet holes in Gyallesu district after recent

A man carrying an axe walks past a house marked with bullet holes in Gyallesu district after recent clashes between Shi'ites and the army in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 3, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Two girls chat to each other while standing near the railway line in Kaduna state, Nigeria, February

Two girls chat to each other while standing near the railway line in Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A Shi'ite girl, whose family claims that her father was killed during clashes between Shi'

A Shi'ite girl, whose family claims that her father was killed during clashes between Shi'ites and the army, looks into the light at a local Shi'ite Islamic school in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A girl peers out of a doorway at a local Islamic school in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2,

A girl peers out of a doorway at a local Islamic school in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Hawkers run alongside a bus as they try to sell provisions to passengers in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nig

Hawkers run alongside a bus as they try to sell provisions to passengers in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A boy rides a bicycle past political posters and graffiti in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February

A boy rides a bicycle past political posters and graffiti in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A partly demolished Islamic school block is seen in Gyallesu district after recent clashes between S

A partly demolished Islamic school block is seen in Gyallesu district after recent clashes between Shi'ites and the army in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 3, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Posters of Islamic leaders are seen above the doorway of a house in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, Fe

Posters of Islamic leaders are seen above the doorway of a house in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A woman walks past a house that was damaged during recent clashes between Shi'ites and the army

A woman walks past a house that was damaged during recent clashes between Shi'ites and the army in Gyallesu district Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 3, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A political poster is seen on the wall of a house in Gyallesu district in Zaria, Kaduna state, Niger

A political poster is seen on the wall of a house in Gyallesu district in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 3, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A bullet hole is seen on the door of a house in Gyallesu district after recent clashes between Shi&#

A bullet hole is seen on the door of a house in Gyallesu district after recent clashes between Shi'ites and the army in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 3, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A boy looks through a broken window at a local Islamic school in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, Febru

A boy looks through a broken window at a local Islamic school in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Rubble is all that remains at the site of a Shi'ite mosque that was demolished in Zaria, Kaduna

Rubble is all that remains at the site of a Shi'ite mosque that was demolished in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A woman walks past a house that was destroyed during recent clashes between Shi'ites and the ar

A woman walks past a house that was destroyed during recent clashes between Shi'ites and the army in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 3, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Shi'ite men talk while sitting under posters of their Islamic leaders in Zaria, Kaduna state, N

Shi'ite men talk while sitting under posters of their Islamic leaders in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Graffiti on the walls of a house that was destroyed during clashes between Shi'ites and the arm

Graffiti on the walls of a house that was destroyed during clashes between Shi'ites and the army reads “Gyallesu says no to Zakzaky” in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 3, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

Islamic students pose for a picture outside their classroom at a Shi'ite school in Zaria, Kadun

Islamic students pose for a picture outside their classroom at a Shi'ite school in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)

A Shi'ite woman is seen going into a classroom at a local Islamic school in Zaria, Kaduna state

A Shi'ite woman is seen going into a classroom at a local Islamic school in Zaria, Kaduna state, Nigeria, February 2, 2016. (Photo by Afolabi Sotunde/Reuters)




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