By Libby GeorgeLAGOS, Nov 14 (Reuters) – Nigerian soldiers shot deadpeaceful protesters at a demonstration in Lagos last month,trucking away the bodies, said written witness testimoniessubmitted to a judicial panel on Saturday but contradicted by anarmy general.”The soldiers kept shooting at random, and I saw peoplefalling to the ground, injured or lifeless,” said DabiraoluwaAyuku in her testimony.Her account was one of three seen by Reuters, and submittedto the Lagos panel investigating allegations that the army andpolice opened fire on and killed people protesting at the city’sLekki Toll Gate against police brutality.The protests, the worst since the country’s return tocivilian rule in 1999, climaxed in that incident on Oct. 20,when rights group Amnesty International said soldiers and policekilled at least 12 protesters in two districts.Both the army and police have denied killing demonstrators.In testimony to the panel on Saturday, Brigadier GeneralAhmed Taiwo, who heads the army’s 81st Division in Lagos, saidsoldiers fired blank rounds only, into the air, to disperseprotesters.When shown a photo by Reuters which he used as testimony toprove the army fired only blanks, he said two bullets among the11 shown were live rounds, one spent and one unspent. He saidthey were not the army’s, but perhaps from the police.”If we fired live rounds into that crowd, the casualtieswill have been too much,” Taiwo said. “So we made thatjudgement, and decided to use blank ammunition.”Police did not respond to calls seeking comment.Two of the civilian panel witness said some troops firedinto the air, but all three said other soldiers shot peacefulprotesters, injuring or killing them. “I remember a particular soldier that kept dancing while heshot,” said Ayuku.Soldiers removed some protesters’ corpses in vans, said twowitnesses, one adding that the troops took away bullet casings.Later that night, police arrived and opened fire onprotesters, two witnesses said. One said they saw police shootdead two men.Ayuku said she returned the next morning to find bloodstains and casings on the floor, while vultures hoveredoverhead.
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