TRAGEDY: Channels TV reporter shot during Shiites protest dies

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The Channels TV reporter shot at the scene of the clash between members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN), better known as Shiites, and the police is dead.

Channels TV announced his death during its 10pm news bulletin on Monday.

He was identified as Precious Owolabi, a member of the National Youth Service Corps (NYSC).

At least six Shiite Muslim protesters were killed in clashes with Nigerian police in the capital Abuja, witnesses told AFP, the latest deadly violence over the lengthy detention of a religious leader.

Hundreds of protesters from the Islamic Movement in Nigeria, a Shia sect, marched demanding the release of pro-Iranian cleric Ibrahim Zakzaky, who has been held since December 2015 on various charges, including terrorism.

Hundreds of his supporters, including women and children, were killed by the security forces, in December 2015, according to a toll established by rights watchdogs.

After witnessing the violence on Monday, a Shiite protestor, Abdullahi Musa, said: “I am right now in front of six dead bodies, one of them is an underage boy.”

“Many, many people were shot.”

An AFP journalist said he saw police open fire with live ammunition as well as tear gas, while protesters threw petrol bombs at the officers.

“I saw six people dead in different places, one of them was a teenager,” the journalist said.

A senior police officer was also killed in the violence, according to local reports, which the journalist verified.

A local fire station was set ablaze.

The IMN have held almost daily marches in the capital in recent months amid concerns Zakzaky’s health is deteriorating.

Zakzaky remains in government custody despite the federal high court ordering his release.

The government has refused and filed fresh criminal charges, including culpable homicide that is “punishable with death”.

The move has enraged his supporters who say Zakzaky is in urgent need of medical treatment being denied by the authorities.

Police on Monday described the clashes as “a violent protest” but gave no casualty figures.

“The police are taking adequate measures to bring the situation under control,” Nigerian police spokesperson Frank Mba said.

Amnesty International condemned the police action as a “reckless use of force”.

“This new crackdown is part of a shocking pattern in which security forces have used live ammunition to disperse IMN supporters who are simply exercising their freedom of expression,” the rights group said.

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