World Nigeria unrest spreads after shooting of protesters
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Buildings in Nigeria's main city of Lagos were torched on Wednesday and sporadic clashes erupted after the shooting of peaceful protesters in which Amnesty International said security forces had killed several people.
Witnesses said gunmen opened fire on a crowd of over 1,000 people on Tuesday evening to disperse them after a curfew was imposed to end spiralling protests over police brutality and deep-rooted social grievances.
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"We were all sitting down, peacefully, and they shut down the lights and the billboards, everyone started screaming," a protester called Toye told AFP, asking that her full name not be used.
"They came to us, but I don't know who it was. They were shooting, and everyone was running for his life."
Pictures and videos showing scenes of chaos in the aftermath of the shooting were widely shared on social media.
The shooting has drawn international condemnation, while Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed for calm, without directly addressing Tuesday's incident.
In South Africa, the continent's other economic powerhouse, hundreds of people took to the streets on Wednesday to voice their outrage at the shooting.
Nigeria's anti-police protesters storm prison, free inmates
LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — Nigeria's protests against police brutality turned violent Monday when a crowd stormed a prison and freed inmates in Benin City in southern Nigeria. Some prisoners jumped from a high fence of the institution while others were seen running away on the street, according to videos from the scene. Local media reports say as many as 200 prisoners may have escaped. Nigerian officials have not announced if there were casualties from the prison break.Protesters also attacked police stations and police trucks in other parts of the country.
The Lagos governor at first insisted no fatalities had been recorded but later said the authorities were investigating the death of one person resulting from "blunt force trauma to the head".
He said at least 25 others were wounded.
Human Rights Watch said in a statement on Wednesday that the Nigerian army had opened fire on the crowd in "a shooting spree".
"The authorities should immediately withdraw the military from the streets, and identify and prosecute officers responsible," said Anietie Ewang, a Nigeria researcher with the rights group.
The Nigerian army did not respond to AFP's requests for comment but on Twitter it called reports of soldiers firing on protesters "fake news".
Nigeria protests: President calls for calm after protesters shot in Lagos
Nigeria's President Muhammadu Buhari has appealed for "understanding and calm" after protests against police brutality in Lagos turned bloody on Tuesday, with eyewitnesses telling CNN that multiple demonstrators had been shot dead by Army soldiers, who then took the bodies away. © Sunday Alamba/AP Protesters in Lagos on Tuesday. Following a night of violence which sparked global outrage, eyewitnesses say the city descended into chaos on Wednesday. Videos posted on social media and local television coverage showed a number of buildings on fire, including the Lagos Theater and at least one bank branch.
Amnesty said it was seeking to determine the number of dead.
- 'Toughest night of our lives' -
The centre of Lagos, a sprawling city that is home to 20 million people, was deserted and shops were closed Wednesday under the curfew.
An AFP journalist said several buildings were in flames around the area of the shooting and army patrols could be seen in the street.
In another district a bus station was ablaze and there were sporadic clashes between bottle-throwing youths and police, who occasionally shot into the air.
A major Nigerian TV station linked to one of the ruling party's top politicians was an "inferno" after its director said it was attacked by hoodlums with Molotov cocktails.
Lagos state governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, in a televised broadcast, ordered all "state activities" to be halted across the city for three days.
He said he had asked for a probe into "the rules of engagement employed by the men of the Nigerian army that were deployed" at the scene during the shooting on Tuesday.
Police patrol Nigeria's Lagos after days of unrest
Barricades and police checkpoints dotted the empty streets of Lagos Friday as authorities tried to return order to Africa's biggest city, under curfew following days of violent unrest. Heavily armed police stopped a handful of cars left driving in the deserted streets on Friday while a few people tried to find their way home after the city was put under lockdown. © Pierre FAVENNEC Shops were looted as fresh violence rocked Nigeria's biggest city Lagos on Thursday after the shooting of protesters that drew international outrage. A warehouse was looted on Friday in Ojo, near Lagos, witnesses told AFP. "They looted everything on site.
"This is the toughest night of our lives as forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history," Sanwo-Olu wrote earlier on Twitter.
The United Nations said it decried "the violent escalation on 20 October in Lagos which resulted in multiple deaths and caused many injuries".
- 'Police brutality and abuses' -
Up until Tuesday some 18 people had died in the demonstrations as clashes were reported between protesters and assailants wearing civilian clothes.
Sanwo-Olu had announced an indefinite curfew from Tuesday afternoon in Africa's largest city after claiming that criminals had hijacked the wave of demonstrations that erupted two weeks ago across the country.
The police chief also ordered anti-riot units to be deployed around the country.
President Buhari was yet to directly address Tuesday's incident but in a statement on the protests the presidency said he had appealed for "understanding and calm across the nation".
"President Buhari's commitment to extensive police reforms should never be in doubt," it added.
Reacting to the shooting, the minority caucus in Nigeria's House of Representatives condemned "such wicked acts of extra-judicial killing of defenceless citizens".
The lawmakers called on the president to "immediately order the arrest and prosecution of officers involved in the Lekki killing".
Nigeria, where the median age is 18, is a tinderbox of profound economic and social grievances, and the demonstrations have snowballed from anger over police violence to broader demands.
UN chief Antonio Guterres called for an "end to reported police brutality and abuses" and called on the authorities "to investigate these incidents and hold the perpetrators accountable", a spokesman said.
The European Union's foreign policy chief Josep Borrell said it was "alarming to learn that several people have been killed and injured during the ongoing protests".
US presidential candidate Joe Biden urged the president and military "to cease the violent crackdown on protesters in Nigeria, which has already resulted in several deaths".
Since Tuesday, Rihanna, Beyonce, Ugandan pop star-turned politician Bobi Wine and Manchester United striker Odion Ighalo added their names to a list of celebrities who have supported the protesters.
The massive protests in Nigeria, explained .
What is the SARS unit, and why do Nigerians want to #EndSARS? The sequence of events leading to what Nigerians now call the #LekkiMassacre suggests that this appears to be a carefully planned attack. While protesters were standing on the road, dancing to songs from a live DJ, the Lagos state governor imposed a curfew, to start at 4 p.m. The protesters refused to leave. Next, operators of the toll removed all CCTV cameras from the toll booths and the lights cut out. Soldiers arrived and opened fire between 6:45 and 9 p.m.