Red Cross: 14 Protesters Injured in Clash with Nigerian Police

Posted January 9th, 2012 at 9:10 am (UTC-5)
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The Red Cross in Nigeria says at least 14 people have been injured in clashes with police during nationwide protests against soaring fuel prices.

Red Cross official Musa Abdullahi said the casualties took place Monday in the northern city of Kano, where at least seven people suffered gunshot wounds.

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

The demonstrations have effectively shut down major cities, including the capital Abuja, and the main commercial city of Lagos, where tension was especially high.

Riot police stood watch as protesters blocked roads, burned tires and chanted against the policies of President Goodluck Jonathan. They also waved flags and placards calling for the government to do away with corruption instead of the fuel subsidy.

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.

An advisor to President Goodluck Jonathan argued the move will benefit citizens in the long run. 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.