Abuja police officials announced on Tuesday, October 30, that around 400 Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) protesters had been arrested following violent demonstrations in the capital. Authorities also said that police officers recovered 31 petrol bombs from IMN members. According to the Inspector General of Police, security forces are on high alert to deal with the IMN and quell further potential unrest.
On Wednesday, October 31, the IMN claimed that at least 42 people had been killed by security forces since the protests started on October 29. However, officials have only confirmed that three demonstrators were killed. Additional demonstrations by IMN supporters are possible in the coming days. A heightened security presence and localized traffic disruptions are to be expected near demonstrations. Further clashes between protesters and security forces cannot be ruled out.
Violent protests broke out on October 29 with IMN supporters demanding the release of their leader, Ibrahim El-Zakzaky. Zakzaky, a prominent Shi'a cleric, was arrested in December 2015 when soldiers raided his home in Zaria (Kaduna state), killing a number of IMN followers in the process. The Nigerian Federal High Court ordered Zakzaky's release in December 2016, but he has nevertheless remained in detention.
IMN protests occur on a regular basis, especially in Abuja, Kaduna, and Kano states, despite a ban on the group's activities.
Individuals in Abuja are advised to avoid all protests due to the risk of associated violence, plan alternative routes, and adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities. In general, the security environment in Nigeria is complex and is particularly challenging in the northeast and extreme south of the country due to the presence of armed groups, high crime rates, and the risk of kidnapping.
Some Western governments consequently advise against travel to certain areas of the northeast (e.g. states of Borno, Yobe, Gombe, Bauchi, and Jigawa as well as parts of Kano and Adamawa states) and the southern Niger Delta region (e.g. states of Delta, Bayelsa, Akwa Ibom, and Rivers). Professional security advice and support should be sought prior to travel to these areas.
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