Amnesty International said on Friday that Nigeria’s army last month killed at least 17 unarmed members of a group calling for secession from Africa’s most populous nation, but the military dismissed the allegations as unfounded, reports Reuters.
Amnesty’s report – which it said was based on details from eyewitnesses, morgues and hospitals – says soldiers opened fire on members of the Indigenous people of Biafra (IPOB) and their supporters in the southeastern city of Onitsha during the build up to a march in late May.
The human rights group said the killings took place during a security operation in the early hours of the morning shortly before the march when the military raided homes and a church where IPOB members slept.
It said five members of IPOB were killed, eight wounded while nine were arrested.
The army issued a statement in which it said troops had to “resort to self defense” after IPOB members attacked security agencies with “firearms” and various weapons including dynamite.
Amnesty said its investigation showed at least 17 people were killed and nearly 50 injured, adding that “the real number is likely to be higher”.
It will be recalled, IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu has been detained since after he was arrested by Department of State Services (DSS) operatives on October 14, 2015 at the Golden Tulip Essential Lagos Airport hotel over his agitation for a Biafran state.