3 Killed in Nigeria Fuel Price Protests

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 1:35 pm (UTC-5)
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Tens of thousands of Nigerians are protesting soaring fuel prices, sparking clashes with police that have killed at least three people.

Witnesses say a police officer fatally shot one protester Monday in the main commercial city of Lagos.

Elsewhere in the city, riot police stood watch as protesters blocked roads, burned tires and chanted slogans against the policies of President Goodluck Jonathan.

In the northern city of Kano, witnesses say two people were fatally shot during the demonstrations. The Red Cross reports at least 14 people were injured, including seven who suffered gunshot wounds.

Kano state officials have imposed a 14-hour curfew running from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. in an effort to restore order.

Thousands of Nigerians began a nationwide strike on Monday to protest the government's decision to end a consumer fuel subsidy last week. Fuel prices doubled in one day to about 88 centers a liter.

The demonstrations virtually shut down some cities, including the capital Abuja.

The country's major labor unions called for the strikes to pressure the government to restore the subsidy.

National Labor Congress spokesman Owei Lakemfa told VOA the government has rejected the unions' efforts to resume talks on the issue.

In an interview with VOA on Monday, information minister Labaran Maku said the subsidy was not sustainable and called on Nigerians to sacrifice now before the situation gets worse.

The government has promised to use the $8 billion saved to invest in the country's infrastructure and social programs.

The fuel subsidy was one of the few benefits Nigerians received from their country's oil wealth. Most people in Nigeria live on less than $2 a day.