Nigeria to allow Shia leader to leave jail for medical care

LAGOS, Nigeria — A Nigerian court on Monday granted the leader of the country's main Shia group, Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky, permission to leave prison in order to travel abroad for medical treatment.

Abdullahi Usman a spokesman for the group told The Associated Press that the court granted Zakzaky and his wife medical leave to enable them to go to India for treatment.

Zakzaky, leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, has been in prison without trial since 2015 after soldiers clashed with members of his group at their headquarters in the northern city of Zaria. Zakzaky and his wife sustained bullet wounds in the incident.

At least 375 Shias were killed in the incident, according to officials, but the Islamic Movement of Nigeria claims that more than 1,000 of their supporters were killed in the clashes.

Zakzaky and his wife have been held in prison in connection with the death of a solider said to have been killed during the incident.

Last month several of Zakzaky's supporters were killed when they demonstrated for his release from prison for medical treatment.

Following the protests, last week Nigerian authorities banned the Shia group describing it as a terrorist organization.

The Shias are a minority of the country's Muslims and claim they are being persecuted by the country's majority Sunni Muslims.

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