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Nigeria’s president blames ‘hooliganism’ for deaths of civilians

An official toll says 51 civilians, 11 policemen and seven soldiers have been killed during unrest linked to protests about police abuse.

Image: PA Images

NIGERIA’S PRESIDENT SAYS 51 civilians have been killed in unrest following days of peaceful protests over police abuses, and he blames “hooliganism” for the violence while asserting that security forces have used “extreme restraint.”

President Muhammadu Buhari’s comments in a statement released late last night are expected to further inflame tensions after Amnesty International reported that soldiers shot and killed at least 12 demonstrators on Tuesday night as a large crowd sang the national anthem.

Buhari also says 11 policemen and seven soldiers had been killed by “rioters” as of Thursday, and “the mayhem has not stopped”.

He says another 37 civilians were injured.

He was speaking to a special meeting with former heads of state and other officials on the way forward after some of Nigeria’s worst turmoil in years.

Thousands of people have been taking to the streets in recent weeks to protest police brutality in the country, where the median age is 18.

The demonstrations erupted earlier this month and were initially focused on abolishing the federal Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS), accused of unlawful detention, extortion and extra-judicial killings.

But after the government announced the unit would be dissolved, thousands of mainly young protesters have remained out on the streets pushing for genuine change in the country.

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