MOSCOW - At least three members of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN) were killed on Tuesday by Nigerian military during the Shia protests in the country’s capital of Abuja, local media reported.

The demonstrators, who protested detention of their spiritual leader Ibrahim Zakzaky, threw stones at Nigerian military, and the latter responded with fire, the News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reported.

“The sect in massive numbers forced their way into the troops checkpoint after overrunning the Police Force … They fired weapons, throwing bottle canisters with fuel, large stones, catapults with dangerous objects and other dangerous items at troops, causing bodily harm and stopping motorist movement, breaking their windscreen and causing heavy traffic. However, troops repelled the attack in conjunction with the Nigerian Police Force to stop the situation from further deteriorating,” the Nigerian army said in a statement, as quoted by NAN.

Four Nigerian soldiers were reportedly injured during the clashes.

Some other country’s media outlets reported about more victims: 16, or even 50.

Zakzaky was detained in 2015 during an operation carried out by the Nigerian army in the city of Zaria that left at least 348 people dead. Zakzaky is seeking an Iranian-like Islamic revolution in Nigeria.