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Riots in Lagos over fuel prices

Lagos, July 7 (Reuters): Nigeria’s top union official today said police shot dead at least 10 protesters during violence in Lagos as a general strike over fuel prices entered its second week — but police denied the killings.

Mobs also burned cars and looted shops and homes in the south-eastern city of Uyo as violence flared in the world’s eighth largest oil exporter, just days before a planned visit by President George W. Bush.

“It has been confirmed that police have killed over 10 people in Lagos,” strike leader Adams Oshiomhole told a news conference in Abuja. “This is despicable and unacceptable.”

But Lagos police spokesperson Emmanuel Ighodalo said: “The police did not kill anybody at all. (It) all took place peacefully. Nobody was even wounded.”

Oshiomhole said President Olusegun Obasanjo’s government had offered a new compromise price for gasoline, but it did not meet the demand of his umbrella Nigeria Labour Congress (NLC).

As Bush winds up his five-nation trip to Africa in Nigeria on Friday night and Saturday, he is likely to focus on Nigeria’s status as a regional power and major supplier of oil to the US. The strike has so far not threatened the visit. Protesters today blocked major roads and torched piles of tyres in the industrial and impoverished western part of Lagos. “Right now we are managing a crisis,” Lagos police chief Young Arebamen said of the situation in shanty towns ringing the sprawling city.

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