Posted by Dow Jones on
Nigeria will hold a public inquiry into a clash between police and soldiers in which at least 1 civilian was killed, a police station set ablaze and hundreds of prisoners freed, officials said.
LAGOS (AP)--Nigeria will hold a public inquiry into a clash between police and soldiers in which at least 1 civilian was killed, a police station set ablaze and hundreds of prisoners freed, officials said.
Witnesses said scores of soldiers, enraged that policemen beat up a colleague, attacked a police station Tuesday in Lagos, Nigeria's main city. Witnesses said they saw between 2 and 5 dead bodies, but police confirmed only 1 death in the violence.
Soldiers and police blame each other for the events.
"We want the panel to say what happened and tell the whole world the truth," said police spokesman Haz Iwendi.
The panel will be headed by a high court judge and will include police and army representatives, he said.
Nigerian army spokesman Col. Mohammed Yusuf said a policeman had demanded a small bribe from a motorbike taxi rider, who was transporting a soldier in uniform. The violence began when the soldier objected.
"There was a hot exchange of words. The policeman...slapped" the soldier, and other soldiers were drawn into the fight, Yusuf said.
Yusuf, however, blamed the burning of the police station and the freeing of prisoners on street toughs known locally as "area boys."
"The hoodlums took advantage of the situation and set the police station on fire and released all the detainees," Yusuf said.
Iwendi said 200 prisoners escaped, and none were recaptured.
Asked to comment on the army version of events, he said: "It is the biggest lie of the century. We know it was not the area boys...it was the soldiers." He said soldiers also shot dead one civilian and injured eight police with gunshots.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
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