Rival Muslim groups clash in Northern Nigeria

July 21, 2010 12:00 am

, KANO, July 21 – Rival Muslims clashed in northern Nigeria on Tuesday, leaving three people wounded and leading to a heavy police deployment to prevent further violence, authorities and residents said.

The incident began when Sunni Muslims in the city of Sokoto attacked a demonstration by Shiites calling for the release of 120 fellow Shia detained after the killing of a cleric.

"We have deployed our men to strategic locations in the city to forestall further breakdown of law and order following some skirmish between Sunni and Shia followers that left three seriously injured," Sokoto state police commissioner Mohammed Abubakar told AFP by phone from Sokoto.

Police were deployed across the city and security vehicles patrolled the streets, resident Usman Mohammed told AFP by phone.

According to a taxi driver who said he witnessed the incident, motorcycle-riding Sunnis disrupted the demonstration and attacked the rival Shiites with machetes.

Sokoto has been rocked by Sunni-Shia unrest over the last three years following the killing of radical Sunni cleric Umar Dan-Maishiyya.

He was known for his critical views regarding Shiites and was shot in the head in 2007 while leaving a mosque.

Sokoto state governor Aliyu Magatakarda Wamakko ordered a police crackdown on Shia in the city, which led to the razing of their headquarters.

At least 120 sect members were arrested over the murder of the Sunni cleric.



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