The Nigerian Army, part of a military criticized for rampant human rights abuses, on Friday used the words of President Trump to justify its fatal shootings of rock-throwing protesters.
Soldiers fired this Monday on a march of about 1,000 Islamic Shiite activists who had blocked traffic on the outskirts of the capital, Abuja. Videos that circulated on social media showed several protesters hurling rocks at heavily armed soldiers who then shot fleeing demonstrators in the back.
The Nigerian military said three protesters were killed, but the toll appears to have been much higher.
Amnesty International and leaders of the protest said more than 40 people were killed at the march and two smaller marches, with more than 100 wounded by bullets. A Reuters reporter counted 20 bodies at the main march.
Human rights activists and many Nigerians were outraged at the military’s response, which echoed a similar confrontation in 2015, when soldiers killed nearly 350 protesters from the same group, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, the largest and most recognizable face of Shiite Islam in the country. The group organizes frequent protest marches.
Early Friday morning, the military responded to the criticism.
The army’s official Twitter account posted a video, “Please Watch and Make Your Deductions,” showing Mr. Trump’s speech on Thursday in which he said rocks would be considered firearms if thrown toward the American military at the nation’s borders.
“We’re not going to put up with that,” Mr. Trump said in the clip. “They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back.”
The army deleted the post hours later without explanation after it had caused an uproar on social media.
Source: New York Times.