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Violent unrest

January 9, 2012

The Red Cross has reported at least 14 casualties after police clashed with protesters demonstrating against soaring fuel prices in Nigeria.

Scores of people demonstrate in Nigeria
Soaring oil prices are adding to Nigerians' woesImage: dapd

Millions of Nigerians took to the streets on Monday to protest the government's decision to halt oil subsidies. The strike had been called by major trade unions, among which are the Nigerian Labor Congress (NLC).

Commuters in some cities found themselves temporarily unable to get to work as much of the public transportation grid was paralyzed in the nationwide demonstrations.

Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan
President Goodluck Jonathan is facing challengesImage: picture-alliance/dpa

According to media reports, police had to use force to break up crowds in some parts.

The Red Cross reported a total of 14 casualties in the northern city of Kano, half of which were caused by gunshot wounds. A union leader claimed police shot dead one demonstrator, news agency AFP reported.

The price of fuel has doubled since January 1, creating great economic hardship for the country's citizens. Yet President Goodluck Jonathan refuses to reimplement the subsidy. The president of the Pharmaceutical Society of Nigeria, Azubuike Okwor, told DPA on Monday that due to expected hikes in the price of transport and production, the price of medicine could also increase by 50 percent.

A man walks past a wall painting of Jesus in Nigeria
An Islamist group is trying to rid the country's north of ChristiansImage: AP

Political hardships

Jonathan had attempted to appease the public a day prior to Monday's strikes by vowing to reduce the wages of government workers to make available money for public spending.

The government is also dealing with spiraling sectarian violence after an Islamist group, Boko Haram, carried out a number of attacks, most recently on Christmas day, in a bid to rid the country's north of Christians. Pope Benedict XVI addressed the matter on Monday, calling on leaders to "forcefully" condemn intolerance and violence.

The country's 54-year-old president on Sunday referred to the unrest as the worst sectarian violence since the Civil War, which took place in the 1960s.

Author: Sarah Berning (AFP, dpa, AP)
Editor: Nancy Isenson