The army said the Islamic Movement in Nigeria was trying to assassinate the chief of army staff, Lieutenant General Tukur Buratai, when members of the sect blocked his convoy in Zaria on Saturday.

The sect was conducting an annual ritual to usher in the month of Maulud, the birth month of the Prophet Mohammed.

On Sunday, the army raided several buildings connected to the sect and the home of its leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky. They arrested him and killed members of the group, such as spokesman Ibrahim Usman.

The group changed its statement on the fate of Zakzaky's second-in-command, Muhammad Turi, saying he was still alive on Monday and receiving treatment.

The Shi'ite sect claims that hundreds of its members were killed. The army took most of the bodies away, making it impossible to verify the claim.

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