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Monday, 29 July, 2002, 23:14 GMT 00:14 UK
Obasanjo visit sparks Kano riot
President Olusegun Obasanjo
Protesters threw stones at the presidential motorcade
Trouble has flared in the northern city of Kano in Nigeria after a visit by President Olusegun Obasanjo attracted violent anti-government protests.

Several people are thought to have been injured after being shot at by the police or presidential armed guard, and at least 50 have been arrested.


A few miscreants are bent on destroying the peace - we will not allow that

Kano police commissioner Kieran Dudari
The president was attending a book launch at the palace of the emir, the city's traditional Muslim ruler.

But Kano is also the home of the family of the late military dictator, General Sani Abacha, whose son Mohammed was cleared of murder earlier this month, having been in prison since 1999, but who has not been released.

Showdown

BBC correspondent Amina Waziri, who was in Kano, said the trouble began halfway into the event, when supporters of the Abacha family turned up outside the palace holding pictures of the late dictator and his son.

The protest may have been a show of solidarity with the late General Abacha's wife, Maryam Abacha, who was attending the event along with Muhammadu Buhari, a former military ruler considered to be President Obasanjo's main rival in elections next year.

General Sani Abacha
General Abacha's son is still in detention
When police and vigilante groups insisted the protesters leave, they met resistance from the crowd.

It turned into a showdown that lasted as long as two hours, until the army arrived in tanks, pointing rifles towards the crowd.

'Bodies'

President Obasanjo left the palace shortly after the violence began.

Soldiers sprayed teargas and fired at young men throwing stones near the rear of the mile-long presidential motorcade.

Several witnesses say they saw limp "bodies" being hauled into military vehicles.

In the meantime, tens of people were injured as the crowds outside the emir's palace ripped up paving stones to hurl.

A victim of Nigeria's sectarian violence
Violence followed the introduction of Sharia law in Kano

Kieran Dudari, the Kano police commissioner, told news agency AFP: "Kano is a peaceful state, but a few miscreants are bent on destroying the peace.

"We will not allow that."

At least 50 people are thought to have been arrested and the atmosphere remains tense in Kano, where police reinforcements had been drafted in from surrounding states for the president's three-day visit.

This is not the first time Kano has been the scene of crowd violence.

Last year, dozens of people were killed in clashes between Christians and Muslims after strict Islamic Sharia law was introduced.


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06 Feb 02 | Africa
25 Jun 02 | Country profiles
21 Dec 01 | Africa
26 Nov 00 | Africa
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