Shots rang out and a prison was set on fire as fresh unrest rocked Nigeria’s largest city Lagos on Thursday after the shooting of protesters sparking international revolt.
Shots were heard and smoke could be seen billowing from the detention facility in the exclusive Ikoyi district of central Lagos, an AFP journalist said.
Police said the attackers had attacked the place on the second day of violence in the city of 20 million people after a brutal degradation of the security forces on demonstrations.
Amnesty International said Nigerian soldiers and police shot down 12 peaceful protesters on Tuesday, while 56 have generally died across the country since demonstrations against police abuse and bad governance began on October 8.
The United States on Thursday condemned what they called the excessive use of force by the Nigerian military.
“We welcome an immediate inquiry into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces,” said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in a statement.
“Those involved must be held accountable in accordance with Nigerian law,” he added.
The United States strongly condemns incidents of military forces firing on unarmed protesters in Lagos. Those involved must be held accountable under the law. We express our sympathy to the victims of the violence and their families. #EndSARS
– Secretary Pompeo (@SecPompeo) October 22, 2020
President Muhammadu Buhari, who has not yet commented on the shooting, held a national Security Council meeting with his defense minister and police chief on Thursday, according to a statement.
Vice President Yemi Osinbajo said his “heart goes out” to the victims of the shooting as well as police officers and others who have lost their lives in days of unrest in Africa’s most populous country.
“The pain of these terrible events is palpable in our cities, and some losses are irreplaceable, but we can and will do justice to them all,” a statement said.
Nigeria’s army has been fired as “fake news” reports that soldiers opened fire on protesters.
Police Minister Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi told the BBC that troops were not ordered to open fire on protesters.
“I can not say who is involved in the shooting … certainly not the police. Soldiers have already talked about this, they deny their commitment, ”he said.
Photos and videos from the attack were widely shared on social media, unleashing a wave of anger over authorities.
The governor of Lagos announced a curfew around the clock and a break in state activities until Friday.
Soldiers patrolled the largely deserted streets of the city on Thursday a day after buildings including police stations, a TV channel and the harbor were burned.
An AFP journalist saw the wreckage of a dozen cars still smoldering in a middle-class neighborhood and two official buildings had been burned down.
Demonstrations broke out two weeks ago in Nigeria due to brutality from the police-fired Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS).
Unity was dissolved, but protests quickly sprouted into broader demands for change, as promises of reform could not stem anger and violence flared up.
The African Union on Thursday strongly condemned the violence and called on all parties to “privilege dialogue”.
The United Nations, the European Union and the United Kingdom have all called for those responsible for the killings to be held accountable.
UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet said reports that lights were turned off and surveillance cameras were removed on the spot before the attack indicated it was “deliberate, planned and coordinated”.
Protests have been held in South Africa and London over the shooting, with a number of major celebrities throwing their weight behind the calls for justice.