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#EndSARS: Attacks against Nigeria protesters 'escalating'

Prisoners have also been confirmed to have fled from a state jail.
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#EndSars

Amnesty International has raised concerns about the #EndSars protest campaign over "escalating crime" in Nigeria.

Protesters were targeted by armed thugs at the central bank's headquarters in the capital, Abuja, it said.

For their part, in the southern state of Edo, police accused people "acting" as protestors of looting weapons and torching police buildings.

Prisoners have also been confirmed to have fled from a state jail.

The demonstrations began about two weeks ago to demand an end to police violence, with the social media hashtag #EndSars being used primarily by young people to mobilize people to demand the closure of the infamous Special Anti-Robbery Squad (Sars).

The unit, established in 1984 under military rule, was accused of extortion, torture and assassination.

Global celebrities such as Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, US rapper Kanye West, footballers Mesut Ozil and Marcus Rashford, as well as Nigerian superstars Davido and Wizkid, have also sponsored the demonstrations.

The government decided to dismantle the unit, but since then, demonstrations have snowballed into demands for broader changes, with protesters now also using the hashtags #EndBadGovernance, #BetterNigeria and #FixNigeriaNow to build social media support.

There was an increased military presence in Abuja on Monday-a day after Defense Minister Bashir Magashi cautioned protestors against "breaching national security."

Amnesty said police brutality persisted, with a 17-year-old teenager, only named Saifullah, dying on Monday in police custody in northern Kano state.

She was allegedly tortured to death, sparking protests in the Kofar Mata region of Kano, Amnesty added.

The police have not yet commented on the allegation.

In other developments, Amnesty said that police fired tear gas at peaceful demonstrators in Abuja, while armed thugs assaulted activists who had occupied the central bank's headquarters in the city early on Monday morning.

The rights group said hundreds of demonstrators were seriously wounded.

Amnesty added that it was the latest in a series of "escalating aggression and organized assaults" against demonstrators of #EndSars.

In recent days, the attacks have also resulted in casualties in the cities of Benin in the south, and Oshogbo in the middle belt, it said.

"We again call on law enforcement agencies to investigate these incidents and protect the protesters from further attack by hoodlums," Amnesty added.

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