SARS: Lagos under lockdown after protesters ‘shot’ | Nigeria

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Heavy security presence in Nigeria’s biggest city; dozens taken to hospital after soldiers reportedly shot at protesters.

Lagos was under lockdown on Wednesday as a heavy police presence enforced a round-the-clock curfew, hours after reports emerged of protesters being shot dead by security forces.

The state governor said 30 people were hurt in the shooting in the Lekki district of the commercial capital on Tuesday evening.

Four witnesses said soldiers fired the bullets and at least two people were killed.

The Nigerian army said on Twitter that no soldiers were at the scene at the time of the shooting.

Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu said 25 people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving intensive care and three had been discharged following Tuesday’s shooting.

“I recognise the buck stops at my table and I will work with the FG (federal government) to get to the root of this unfortunate incident and stabilise all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,” said Sanwo-Olu.

Al Jazeera’s Ahmed Idris, reporting from the capital Abuja, said the situation in the country’s largest city, Lagos, appears to be worsening.

“Things have gone from bad to worse in Lagos. We are hearing of pockets of violence in the city. In Lekki, where last night’s attack happened, there’s been cases of arson, and attacks on properties,” he said.

“We are also hearing that about 30 government buses have been burnt down at a bus station. One of the leading private television stations in Nigeria is also off air. A source has told us it has been burnt down by protesters. The station is owned by an influential politician who is in the same party as the president.”

Amnesty International said it had received “credible but disturbing evidence of excessive use of force occasioning deaths of protesters at Lekki toll gate in Lagos” on Tuesday, adding that it was investigating “the killings”.

Another witness, Chika Dibia, said soldiers hemmed in people as they shot at them.

Video verified by Reuters news agency showed men walking slowly in formation towards demonstrators, followed by trucks with flashing lights, and the sound of gunfire popping. Another video showed the toll gate itself, with a protester waving a Nigerian flag, as people ran amid the sound of gunfire.

Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders.

Authorities imposed the 24-hour curfew on Lagos on Tuesday after the state governor said the protests had turned violent.

On Wednesday, police had set up roadblocks in the city and were not allowing vehicles to pass, although there were a few cars and people walking, Reuters reported.

The SARS unit was disbanded on October 11 following the uproar, but the protests have persisted with demonstrators calling for law enforcement reforms.

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