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Union: Nigerian police kill 10

Nigeria general strike
Police have fired tear gas to break up protests during a week of unrest.

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AJUBA, Nigeria (CNN) -- Ten protesting strikers have been shot dead by police in Lagos, a top union official said.

Adams Oshiomhole, president of the Nigeria Labor Congress (NLC) the umbrella organization spearheading the strike, described Monday's scene as a "bloodbath."

The strike, sparked by a 50 percent fuel price hike, is entering its second week after hopes of earlier compromise deals fell through.

U.S. President George W. Bush is set to visit the country -- America's fifth-largest oil supplier -- as part of his five-day tour of Africa beginning Monday. (Full story)

Oshiomhole said it was unfortunate police had resorted to shooting at demonstrators.

Police would not comment on the report. Officials have been reticent since being criticized last week after four protesters were killed.

Other sources were saying three people were killed in confrontations between protesters and police in Lagos.

Witnesses also reported burning and looting in the southeastern city of Uyo Monday, Reuters news agency reported.

Fires were lit on the streets of Lagos despite weekend reports of a settlement. Mobs also turned back motorists in the oil-producing nation's biggest city and commercial center, Reuters added.

"I can see fires burning on Oshodi-Apapa Expressway. Hundreds of frightened people are stranded at bus stops," Reuters correspondent Tume Ahemba said from the mainly industrial Oshodi district.

On Sunday, Reuters quoted a union official as saying the protests would be called off following a deal with the government. "An agreement has been reached," said Owei Lakemasa, spokesman for the NLC.

Last week several people died in clashes between demonstrators and security forces.

Police try to extinguish a fire used as a roadblock to prevent people from returning to work in Lagos
Police try to extinguish a fire used as a roadblock to prevent people from returning to work in Lagos

Work stoppages have hit the country's seaports, as well as closed banks, shops and petrol stations. Manufacturing plants and many of Nigeria's biggest corporations have also been affected.

The NLC had urged President Olusegun Obasanjo to reverse his June 20 decision to end subsidies on retail fuel products and increase petrol prices by more than 50 percent.

Strikes began June 30 in Lagos, the capital Abuja and other major cities.

Nigeria, which ships more than two million barrels of oil a day, is the world's fifth-largest exporter of crude. However, it must rely on fuel imports because its domestic refineries cannot meet the country's needs.

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