This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
UNCLAS ABUJA 000236
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