|Amnesty International Eye witness account on Army #Zaria Massacre.|
|Saturday, 24 December 2016 11:01|
I heard shots. I ran over to Sheikh’s house to find out what was happening. That’s when I saw so many people on the street. There were soldiers at the end of the road. They were shooting. The bullets were just flying everywhere, hitting and killing many people. I saw two children who looked like they could be aged 7 and 12 writhing in pain on the ground. They were bleeding.
Just then I saw one of my five sons. They had gone to Hussainniyah [mosque] that morning. So I asked him to help me move the older one whose injury was worse into a house. When we came back to pick the second child, the soldiers had noticed him. We ran away as they shot him point blank in the head. He was only a child. I fell as a wall caved in on me when the soldiers threw a bomb toward the house.
That was the last I saw of my son or any of his brothers till today. What really is our offense? Why do they hate us so much? I don’t know how I survived. It was at the hospital they found out I had 12 bits of shrapnel lodged in my back.
A 30-year-old man who was at Hussainniyah mosque and religious centre:
I was at the center as early as 9 a.m. on Saturday. At about noon we heard some noise. When we came out we noticed about 60 soldiers in front and at the back of the center. We became jittery. Some of my Muslim brothers went to ask them why they were there. They said it’s because the COAS was going to pass and they did not trust us. We told we were not comfortable with their presence. We decided to set up a barricade so that if they start to shoot it would take time before they get to us.
By around 2:30 p.m. when a long military convoy came we tried to explain why we were concerned that they seemed focused on us. Before long they just started shooting their way through the barricade. Up to 50 of us including women and children were killed. The rest of us fled in different directions.
I hid in a gutter for a long time. Then I noticed at around 10 p.m. that more soldiers came. They took positions around Hussainniyah. Not long after I got a call that the same thing was happening at Gyellesu. So I crawled my way out of the area and ran to the Sheikh’s house to help protect him.
Around 2 a.m. those still stuck at Hussainniyah called to say the soldiers were announcing that everyone should come out of the center. When they did not respond, soldiers started throwing grenades into the building. We could hear the explosions over the phone. There were more than 500 people in that place. We lost count of the numbers after they told us of the 175th death. After that we could no longer reach anyone there. I believe there are still some hiding around the place afraid and injured.
We could not come out because the soldiers were still outside. We waited for them to leave so we can go home. But we soon noticed they became more. They came with tanks (armored personnel carriers) and were just shooting and shooting. Many of us got shot. Some died fast and some slowly. It was terrible. So when the soldiers shouted on loudspeakers that we should come out I went with some women and other children.
I was already wounded in the leg. I didn’t want to die. They tied our hands at back. With rope. Only us men and boys. Then they took us in trucks to their barracks and put all of us in one room. There were up to 50 of us in the room. The soldiers did not ask us anything but some of them will come and kick us with their boots and say “Look at you. What did your teacher give you to make you behave like this?” Then they will hit us some more. They did not touch the women and young children. Only us men and boys even though many of us were seriously injured.
We were there from that Sunday morning until Tuesday [December xx] when they brought us to the hospital. They did not give us any food. Not even water. But later they said those who had money should bring it. They used it to buy pure water for them.
We were expecting trouble but not from soldiers. The day before, four of our members were killed in Gabai by local vigilantes…Gabai is about 10 kilometers from Zaria. So we were surprised to hear that soldiers were attacking Hussainniyah. The Sheikh decided we should go and pray at Daral-Rahma [cemetery]. But the Sheikh’s wife became jittery because she had heard on the news that soldiers said we wanted to kill the army boss. Someone had helped the Sheikh’s young children escape from Hussainniyah. So when they brought them to meet us at Daral-Rahma, we decided to go home.
We met a large crowd when we got to the house. They said they heard soldiers were coming toward the Sheikh’s house. It was not until about 10 p.m. that the soldiers started shooting. We put up our own barricade to stop the soldiers from coming close. We were throwing stones at them because that was all we had to protect ourselves.
The shooting continued until 1a.m. on Sunday December 13. Then everything was quiet. Suddenly we heard a loud boom. The people in Hussainniya called to say bombs had been thrown into the center. We could hear the explosions continued until 5 a.m. when no voices came up on the phone again.
The soldiers reinforced and stormed the Sheikh’s house at 9 a.m. We tried to stand our ground but they killed many of us, including my female friend, until they got into the house at 11 a.m. I saw at least 30 soldiers including one on a tank. I got shot and was in so much pain I could no longer stay. I went to the makeshift clinic members set up during the night to treat the injured. It was just three houses away. I was horrified at what I saw there. All the injured people we took there all night, the doctor and the two nurses helping him had been shot. I think they would have been more than 50 of them there. I ran when I got the chance.
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