Members of the Nigerian Army opened fire on rock-throwing protesters Monday, killing and wounding dozens, and on Friday used the words of President Donald Trump to justify the shootings.
> Soldiers opened fire this past Monday on a march of about 1,000 Islamic Shia activists who had been blocking traffic in the capital, Abuja. Videos circulated on social media showed several protesters hurling rocks at the heavily armed soldiers who then shot fleeing protesters in the back.
> The Nigerian military said three protesters were killed but the toll appears to have been much higher.
> Amnesty International as well as leaders of the protest said more than 40 people were killed at the march and two other smaller marches, with more than 100 wounded by bullets. A Reuters reporter counted 20 bodies at the main march.
In a similar incident in 2015, soldiers opened fire on protesters from the very same group — the Islamic Movement of Nigeria — killing nearly 350 people, The Times noted.
The Nigerian Army responded to criticism over its actions by posting a video of Trump to its official Twitter account, writing “Please Watch and Make Your Deductions.”
In the video, taken from a speech Trump gave on Thursday at the White House, the president says if members of the migrant caravan heading north from Central America throw rocks at American troops on the U.S.-Mexico border, “our military fights back.”
“We will consider [rocks] a firearm,” Trump said. “Because there’s not much difference when you get hit in the face with a rock.”
> On Friday, John Agim, a spokesman for the Nigerian Army, said the posting of the video was a response to Amnesty International, which had criticized what it called the military’s use of excessive force.
> “We released that video to say if President Trump can say that rocks are as good as a rifle, who is Amnesty International?” he said. “What are they then saying? What did David use to kill Goliath? So a stone is a weapon.”
> “Our soldiers sustained injuries,” he continued. “The Shiites even burnt one of our vehicles so what are Amnesty International saying?”
Agim said the protesters aimed to take over the checkpoint, but a spokesperson for the group disputed his characterization:
> Ibrahim Musa, a spokesman for the Shia group, said that on Monday security forces refused to let protesters, who numbered no more than 1,000, pass the checkpoint as they marched toward their destination. He said 13 other protesters were killed during two other marches this week, one before and one after Monday’s deadly march.
> “Rocks are not equal to bullets,” he said. “The use of force is disproportionate. I don’t think President Trump is a good example — even in America many are critical of him. I am surprised that the Army will use Trump as a role model.”