Sheikh Ibrahim El-Zakzaky
Nigeria, which is still battling Boko Haram militants, now risks unleashing a new Islamist threat after violent clashes between the army and a radical Shiite group, experts say.
It has been predicted that a new terror threat might emerge in Nigeria if the latest controversy between the government and Shiite Muslims is not handled the right way.
Though no official death toll was released, at least a dozen members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were killed in confrontations with the army during a religious procession last week in the northern city of Zaria.
IMN leader Ibrahim Zakzaky was seriously wounded and arrested by the army while his number two was killed during the clashes. The military was forced to put out a denial after rumours spread that Zakzaky's wife died in custody.
The violence mirrors the bloody beginning of the Boko Haram insurrection in 2009, when the former leader of the Sunni militant group was executed in police custody and the sect took up arms against the Nigerian government.
Nigeria's highest Muslim authority, the Sultan of Sokoto, on Monday urged the authorities to show "restraint".
"Don't create a new Boko Haram," warned Alhaji Muhammad Sa'ad Abubakarr in a statement. "The past, with cataclysmic consequences that Nigeria is yet to recover from, should not be allowed to repeat itself," he added.
Battling Boko Haram is a priority for Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari, who has vowed to end the insurgency that has claimed 17,000 lives.
Boko Haram has shifted its strategy from raiding villages to relying on deadly bomb attacks in its quest to overthrow the government and create a hardline Islamist state in the northeast of the west African nation of some 170 million people.
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