In recent days, 51 civilians, 11 police officers and 7 soldiers have been killed in the bloody protests against police violence in Nigeria. Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said so according to a statement Friday night – admitting for the first time that the violent riots of the past two weeks were fatal for many people.
The president did not say whether security forces were responsible for the 51 civilians killed. However, he stressed that the 11 police officers and 7 soldiers had been killed by the protesters.
The #EndSARS protests in Africa’s largest economy have been going on for two weeks. The situation escalated on Tuesday when security forces allegedly shot at protesters at a toll booth in the economic metropolis of Lagos. Wednesday and Thursday, there were demonstrations and violence in the city, including in a prison, despite an ongoing curfew. The situation remained calm on Friday.
Internationally, there has been recent criticism of the brutal action by alleged security forces against protesters, including UN Secretary-General António Guterres, EU Foreign Affairs Representative Josep Borrell and High Commissioner for Human Rights Michelle Bachelet.
Video of the murder sparked protests
The protests were triggered by a video in which an officer from the now-defunct Special Anti-Robbery Squad (SARS) murdered a young man and made the rounds on social media. The protests quickly spread internationally under the hashtag #EndSARS and also led to protest rallies abroad.
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President Buhari complained on Friday that the protesters are continuing their protests despite the dissolution of the controversial elite unit. Rather than canceling the protests, they encouraged further action and gradually turned violent.
The notice did not specify whether anyone was held responsible for the deaths. However, property damage was said to have continued and thousands of prisoners had been released from detention centers during the unrest. One of Nigeria’s largest prisons was set on fire on Thursday. (dpa)