There was anxiety yesterday in Kaduna, following a clash between members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria and policemen in Tudun Wada.
An eyewitness account said the Shiite sect members were preparing for a protest against the arrest of their leader, Sheik Ibraheem El-Zakzaky, by the military when the police came to disperse the crowd.
But the sect members regrouped at Tudun Nupawa where many of them were said to have engaged the police in a shootout, leading to injuries on both sides.
The source also said three persons were feared dead.
A source at the police clinic on Independence Way in the heart of Kaduna also hinted our correspondent that four policemen were injured, one in critical condition.
The clash came as the Minister of Interior, Abdulrahman Danbazau, led a Federal Government delegation to Kaduna State over the crisis between the army and the sect. They clashed last weekend when members of the sect blocked the Zaria/Jos road, preventing Chief of Army Staff Lt.-Gen. Tukur Buratai’s convoy from passing.
The Minister also held a close door meeting with the Governor Mallam Nasir El-Rufai on the development before going to Zaria to ascertain what really transpired between the sect and the soldiers.
Danbazau told reporters at the Government House: “I came to Kaduna to see the situation of things and I decided to see the Chief Security Officer of the state.
“I’m on my way to Zaria to see the situation of things.”
On yesterday’s incident, the sect issued a statement, saying: “The mobile police unit (MOPOL) attacked a peaceful protest staged by the members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria in Kaduna, killing three people on the spot, with many receiving gunshot injuries.
“As usual with such protest conducted by the Muslim brothers, it started peacefully from Layin Kosai area of Tudun Wada Kaduna. However, when it reached Tudun Nupawa near Enugu Road, MOPOL, in about five vehicles, opened fire on the protesters.
“The main aim and slogans of the protesters was ‘Release Sheikh Zakzaky!’ “Enough is Enough!
“The protest was dispersed by the police by their sporadic shootings.
However about 9 police vehicles moved to Tudun Wada where the Markaz (Islamic Centre) of the Muslim brothers is situated and opened fire there.
“As if in continuation of what the army started in Zaria over the weekend.
“Report reaching us said many were killed or wounded there also.
Similar protests were held in Bauchi, Gombe, Kano and Gusau, and they all ended peacefully, becouse no police were ordered to shoot the protesters.
The question is, who are those in authority that are bent on creating choas in Kaduna through such brutal attacks on ordinary unarmed people.” The statement read.
The city centre was initially paralysed, as shops, banks and other businesses were shut for the fear of the unknown.