JOS, Nigeria â€” Police opened fire on hundreds of bikers protesting a ban on commercial motorcycles in Nigeria’s flashpoint city of Jos Wednesday, killing five of the protestors, a rescue official said.
An AFP journalist saw four corpses after the demonstration turned violent, with protestors setting alight a police station in the city, which has seen several outbursts of violence in the past months.
“A total of five people were shot dead by policemen,” secretary of the Jos Muslim Umar group rescue team, Tanko Shittu, told AFP.
Police could not confirm a death toll but Commissioner Ikechukwu Aduba said security forces had first used teargas but later had to resort to weapons, with the protestors also armed.
“We can’t rule out casualties because it was a very serious and tense situation, (there were) thousands of them,” the police commissioner told AFP.
“Police had to use smoke and when that did not work, they had to use firearms,” he said.
Investigators were checking on the casualties, he said.
A policeman who was stabbed on Monday in similar protests died in hospital on Wednesday, a police assistant inspector general Donald Iroha said in a statement.
Hundreds of irate riders have poured on to the streets of Jos since Monday to protest the arrest of their colleagues who defied the government ban on their operations.
Authorities have ordered a ban on the use of motorcycles for commercial purpose saying they are involved in crime.
Aduba said at least 100 riders had been arrested for defying the ban.
Jos and its environs have been plagued with sectarian violence that has claimed hundreds of lives this year.