The Nigerian Army, part of a military criticized for rampant human rights abuses, on Friday used the words of President Trump to justify its fatal shootings of rock-throwing protesters.
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.
Human rights activists and many ordinary citizens were outraged at the military’s response, which echoed a similar confrontation in 2015, when soldiers killed nearly 350 protesters from the same group, the Islamic Movement of Nigeria, the largest and most recognizable face of Shia Islam in the country. The group organizes frequent protest marches.
Early Friday morning, the military responded to the criticism.
The Army’s official Twitter account posted a video, “Please Watch and Make Your Deductions,” showing Mr. Trump’s anti-migrant speech on Thursday in which he said rocks would be considered firearms if thrown toward the American military at the nation’s borders.
Please Watch and Make your Deductions. pic.twitter.com/05yVwULFoh
— Nigerian Army (@HQNigerianArmy) November 2, 2018
“We’re not going to put up with that,” Mr. Trump said in the clip. “They want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back.”