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Cablegate: Violence Erupts in Abuja's Main Marketplace

This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.

UNCLAS ABUJA 000236

SIPDIS


DEPT FOR DS/DSS/ITA, DS/OP/AF, DS/PSP/FPD, AF/EX, AF/W


E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: ASEC CASC AMGT PGOV NI
SUBJECT: VIOLENCE ERUPTS IN ABUJA'S MAIN MARKETPLACE


1. A violent disturbance erupted this morning in
Abuja's Wuse New Market between vendors and Nigerian
National Police when the police attempted to dismantle
the numerous illegal shops and residences in the busy,
market area. As the police began their sweep, affected
vendors and residential squatters responded in protest.


2. The protest quickly degenerated into rock and bottle
throwing. The confrontation spilled from the
marketplace into sections of several main thoroughfares
of the city, choking off traffic on some important
arteries in the area near the market. Several parked
cars were set ablaze and passing vehicles and motorists
were pelted with stones and bottles.


3. One policeman was reportedly killed during the
melee. As the violence escalated, the Police called in
reinforcements and they have been using tear gas and
gunfire to disperse the crowds and quell the
demonstration. We have no information about any
civilian casualties nor about the number of police
actually deployed. It does not appear that any army
units have been called to assist.


4. There are no reports of American citizens being
caught in the market upheaval. The Embassy has
directed all employees and family members to avoid the
area until after the weekend. A similar warden message
was issued this afternoon. (Para 6.)


5. Post management will continue to monitor the
situation to determine if additional precautions are
warranted.


6. Text of Embassy Warden Message:


"A serious disturbance occurred in the Wuse New
Market area this morning (January 25). The disturbance
later intensified and spread to Berger Junction. There
have been reports of gunshots and burning vehicles. We
have one confirmed report that a police officer was
killed in the disturbance. We urge all American
citizens to avoid the area from Wuse Market to Berger
Junction at least until the weekend. Even after the
violence has ended, the area will be unsettled and
should be avoided as previously stated. Please
exercise particular caution throughout Abuja this
weekend."
Jeter

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