Africa

Nigerian Shia movement leader's wife 'alive' - army

Sheikh Zakzaky
Image caption Sheikh Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, is inspired by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini

The wife of the leader of Nigeria's main Shia Muslim sect is alive, the Nigerian army says, denying earlier reports that she was killed in clashes with the army in northern Kaduna state.

Malam Zeenat Ibrahim is in army custody with her husband, Sheikh Ibraheem Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), it says.

The violence followed allegations that members of the sect had attempted to assassinate Nigeria's army chief.

The IMN denies the allegations.

Speaking to the media, an army head in the Kaduna division, Maj Gen Oyebado, did not confirm or deny the death of Sheikh Zakzaky's son, who the IMN had also said was killed in the clashes.

The army says members of the sect attempted to assassinate its chief of staff, Lt Gen Tukur Buratai, on Saturday when his motorcade was passing through a Shia procession.

But the IMN says the Nigerian army opened fire on their members.

It alleges that Nigerian soldiers killed at least 20 of its members in fighting at the weekend.

The Islamic Human Rights Commission said on Sunday that before Sheikh Zakzaky's arrest, the military had parked two tanks outside his home.

Last year, three of Sheikh Zakzaky's sons were killed in clashes between the army and pilgrims in a procession.

The group wants to set up an Islamic republic and has frequently clashed with the army.

It is also opposed to the Sunni Muslim jihadist group, Boko Haram, which recently staged an attack on one of its processions, killing at least 21 people.

Boko Haram condemns Shias as heretics who should be killed.

Most of Nigeria's Muslims are Sunnis, and there are underlying tensions between them and Shia Muslims, correspondents say.

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