Nigerian Army Shot Unarmed Protesters in East, Amnesty Says

  • Amnesty International calls for investigation into shootings
  • Army says two police officers killed in “violent” protests

Amnesty International said Nigerian security forces gunned down unarmed protesters last month during demonstrations to mark the anniversary of the failed declaration of the independent Biafra Republic in 1967.

The London-based human rights group urged the authorities to investigate the shootings in the city of Onitsha that killed as many as 17 people and wounded almost 50, according to an e-mailed statement Friday. The military said after the incident that five people died and that it acted in self-defense, while the separatist group that organized the demonstration, the Indigenous People of Biafra, put the death toll at 40.

“These shootings, some of which may amount to extra-judicial executions, must be urgently and independently investigated and anyone suspected of criminal responsibility must be brought to justice,” Amnesty said in the statement.

The army said two police officers were killed and several were injured during what it described as “violent” protests.

“The military and other security agencies exercised maximum restraint against the odds of provocative and inexplicable violence that was employed against them by the pro-Biafra protesters,” the army said in a statement posted on its website Friday.

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