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Lagos - Nigerian soldiers fired live rounds to break up a protest by university students on Monday, with the demonstration leaving one student dead and nine others injured, according to police.
Police spokesperson Michael Ada in central Nassarawa state, where the demonstration occurred, would not confirm the circumstances that led to the casualties, including whether the troops fired directly on the protesters.
“One student died and nine others were injured when soldiers fired shots to disperse protesting students of the Nassarawa State University in Keffi,” Ada told reporters.
“The students went on rampage, protesting the lack of water and electric power supply to the university campus. Soldiers later came in and students pelted them with stones and (the soldiers) fired shots,” he added.
The university registrar, Dalhatu Mamman, explained that the students had staged their protest on a nearby highway.
The soldiers had not been called to the scene by officials or police, but decided to intervene after passing by during regular patrols, according to Mamman.
Police had tried to pacify the students before the soldiers arrived but “all frantic efforts to get them off the highway failed”, he said.
“In the course of their normal patrol (a military unit) saw the chaos on the federal highway and decided to clear the road. Students began to throw pebbles and it led to some shooting. Some students were wounded,” he continued.
He added that while he had heard reports of deaths, he could not confirm that those killed were students.
The university has been closed indefinitely, the registrar said.
Nigeria's security forces have repeatedly been accused of using excessive force, including to stamp out protests.
Troops fired live rounds to disperse a demonstration last year outside a mosque in central Nigeria as worshippers prepared to rally against an anti-Islam film that had sparked protests across the Arab world. - Sapa-AFP