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  • # EndSars protests

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionProtesters in Lagos built barricades and blocked roads in the commercial center of Nigeria *: not ([hidden]): not (style) ~ *: not ([hidden]): not (style) {margin-top: 1rem;}]]>

Several people who took part in a protest against police brutality were reportedly shot or wounded in Lagos, Nigeria’s largest city.

Witnesses cited by local media said up to 12 people were killed and others injured after soldiers opened fire. Amnesty International said it had received credible reports of deaths.

The army denies the reports. Officials have promised an investigation.

An indefinite 24-hour curfew has been imposed on Lagos and other regions.

Nduka Orjinmo, of the BBC in Nigeria, said a small group of protesters opposed the curfew on Wednesday and gathered at the Lekki tollgate in Lagos where the shooting took place.

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The protests against a police unit that has since been disbanded, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars), have been going on for two weeks. The protesters use the social media hashtag #EndSars to gather crowds.

In response to Tuesday’s shootings in the affluent suburb of Lekki, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called on Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari and the army to “stop killing young #EndSARS protesters.”

Nigerian soccer player Odion Jude Ighalo, who plays for Manchester United, accused the Nigerian government of killing its own citizens. “I am ashamed of this government,” he said in a video posted on Twitter.

What do we know about the shooting?

Eyewitnesses spoke of uniformed men who opened fire at the Lekki toll booth on Tuesday evening.

Armed soldiers were barricaded in the protest area shortly before the shooting, reports BBC Nigeria correspondent Mayeni Jones.

Live streams from social media show protesters caring for the wounded.

Image rightsReutersImage descriptionThe governor of Lagos, Babajide Sanwo-Olu, visited the injured in hospital on Wednesday

An unnamed witness told BBC News that shortly before 7:00 pm local time soldiers “pulled up … and immediately started shooting” at peaceful protesters.

“They fired and walked straight towards us. It was chaos. Someone was hit right next to me and they died instantly.

“It was Pandemonium and they kept shooting and shooting at us. It took about an hour and a half and the soldiers actually picked up the bodies.”

He said the soldiers had built a barricade and ambulances could not reach the protest area.

Four witnesses said the Reuters news agency soldiers opened fire on protesters. One of them, Alfred Ononugbo, 55, said: “They started shooting ammunition at the crowd. They shot the crowd. I saw the bullet hit a person or two.”

Authorities have only confirmed that some people were injured in the shooting. The Premium Times newspaper quoted witnesses who said about 12 people were killed.

In a tweet, Amnesty International Nigeria said it had “received credible but worrying evidence of excessive use of force that resulted in the deaths of protesters at the Lekki toll booth in Lagos”.

Amnesty International spokesman Isa Sanusi later said: “People were killed at the toll booth by security forces … we are working to check how many.”

How did the authorities react?

Gboyega Akosile, a spokesman for the Lagos governor, tweeted: “There have been reports of shooting at Lekki Toll Plaza following the 24-hour curfew on the Lagos state to stop criminals hiding among #EndSARS protests to wreak havoc innocent citizens. “

He said state authorities had ordered an “investigation into the incident”.

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The army has not issued a statement on the events in Lekki, but several posts on Twitter referred to media reports as “false news”.

Lagos Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said 25 people were injured in an “unfortunate shooting incident”.

He posted pictures of himself visiting the injured man in hospital and said on Twitter that “forces beyond our direct control have moved to make dark notes in our history”.

Nigeria reacts to harrowing scenes

Analysis by Mayeni Jones, correspondent for BBC Nigeria

It was a bleak night in Nigeria when social media footage of the shootings came in showing gunshots that rang out late into the night at the protest site.

This is not the first time the Nigerian army has been accused of shooting unarmed demonstrators. There have been reports of violent crackdowns on EndSars protesters in other parts of the country.

But seeing live rounds at one of the protest venues, which were peaceful until last night, shook many. Just last week I was exactly at the location of the shooting. The demonstrators were peaceful, organized and hoped for the future of their country. But that is no longer possible. Shocking social media videos of protesters singing the national anthem while gunfire rang out in the background sparked outrage.

Several online accounts say video surveillance and lights were turned off at a toll booth where the protest was taking place before the troops advanced, causing total chaos. These details stir up a generation already disaffected with the ruling class. The presidency’s deafening silence only exacerbates this anger. Time is running out for the Nigerian government to quell growing discontent.

How did the unrest start?

The protests began almost two weeks ago with calls for the Sars, who had been accused of illegal detention, assault and shootings, to be disbanded.

President Buhari disbanded the unit on October 11th.

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However, the protesters called for further changes to the security forces as well as reforms to the way the country is run.

Mr. Sanwo-Olu said that criminals hijacked the protests.

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