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Nigerian Army: Islamic Leader Zakzaky in Custody Following Raids


FILE - Nigerian army soldiers stand guard as they cordon off a road leading to the scene of a blast at a business district in Abuja, June 25, 2014.

The Nigerian army says it has taken into custody the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, after the group allegedly attacked the convoy of Nigeria's army chief.

Major General Adeniyi Oyebade told reporters Monday that Ibraheem Zakzaky and his wife have been taken into custody after raids on at least three locations. Oyebade said Zakzaky was arrested in the northern city of Zaria, in Kaduna State. He also said there were casualties on both sides after the raids Saturday and Sunday, but did not give an exact number.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) says soldiers killed up to 300 of its members in the northern city of Zaria, in Kaduna State. Other reports put the death toll much lower, at 20.

The violence began Saturday after members of the movement blocked a highway and according to witnesses stoned the convoy of General Tukur Buratai. An army spokesman called the stoning an "attempt to assassinate" the army leader.

The Shiite group says there was no assassination attempt and that the army had launched a pre-planned attack on the group.

It says troops launched attacks and killed people "indiscriminately" at three locations, including the home of the group's leader, Ibraheem Zakzaky. Zakzaky's wife and a son were among those killed. Zakzaky's whereabouts Monday were unclear.

The Islamic Movement of Nigeria seeks to establish an Islamic state in nothern Nigeria through an Iranian-style revolution.

The group is not connected to Boko Haram, the Islamist radical sect blamed for more than 10,000 deaths in Nigeria during the past six years.

State media in Iran say Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif has called on Abuja to take measures to keep Muslims safe. The IRNA news agency says Zarif made the remarks during a phone conversation Monday with his Nigerian counterpart Geoffrey Onyeama.