Soldiers on Tuesday opened fire on people protesting against police brutality in the Lekki district of Lagos, Nigeria, and at least two demonstrators were shot, four witnesses said.
Thousands of Nigerians have demonstrated nationwide every day for nearly two weeks against a police unit, the Special Anti-Robbery Squad, that rights groups had for years accused of extortion, harassment, torture and murders.
The unit was disbanded on Oct. 11, but the protests have persisted, with demonstrators calling for a raft of law enforcement reforms.
“They started firing ammunition toward the crowd. They were firing into the crowd,” 55-year-old security officer Alfred Ononugbo said after the soldiers opened fire. “I saw the bullet hit one or two people.”
The condition of those two people was not immediately known.
Amnesty International has said that at least 15 people had been killed since the protests began.
The Nigerian Army wrote on Twitter that no soldiers were at the scene of the shooting on Tuesday night in Lekki, an upmarket district where a toll gate has been the site of daily protests.
Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu posted pictures on Twitter of him visiting people in hospital who were victims of what he referred to as the “unfortunate shooting incident at Lekki.”
Twenty-five people were being treated for mild to moderate injuries, two were receiving intensive care and three had been discharged, he said.
“As the governor of our state, I recognize 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 stabilize all security operations to protect the lives of our residents,” Sanwo-Olu wrote, adding that he would give a state broadcast yesterday morning.
The state government earlier said that it would open an investigation into the shooting, which witnesses said began at about 7pm.
An army spokesman did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
More than 20 soldiers arrived at the toll gate in Lekki and opened fire, 26-year-old photographer Inyene Akpan said, adding that he saw two people being shot.
Akinbosola Ogunsanya, a third witness, said that he saw about 10 people being shot and watched as soldiers removed bodies, while another witness, Chika Dibia, said that soldiers hemmed in people as they shot at them.
Verified video showed men walking slowly in formation toward 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 national flag, as people ran amid the sounds of gunfire.
Authorities on Tuesday imposed a round-the-clock curfew on Lagos as the state governor said that protests had turned violent.
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