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Two students killed, 23 injured in Nigeria food stampede

By AFP

March 22, 2024 10:46 PM


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At least two students died and 23 were hurt in a crush in central Nigeria on Friday as a huge crowd gathered for food handouts at a university, a spokesman told AFP.

Thousands of students at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, surged and broke through gates where the state government was distributing bags of rice.

Nigeria has been grappling with soaring food prices since the government withdrew a petrol subsidy and floated the naira currency in a bid to shore up the  economy.

Inflation has reached a three-decade high of 31.7 percent, making basic items inaccessible for many Nigerians, most of whom live on less than $2 a day.

"There was a stampede this morning at the rice distribution point within the university where the state governor was to distribute 4,000 bags of rice to students," university spokesman Abraham Habu told AFP by phone.

"Two female students died in the stampede while 23 others were taken to hospital with injuries but in a stable condition," Habu said.

Desperate people had gathered from around 2 am (0100 GMT) waiting for the distribution to students and the disabled, which was to begin around 10 am, Habu said.

By 9 am the crowd had "surpassed 4,000 and become uncontrollable," he said.

People pushed their way into the fenced zone and began taking away  rice in a "chaotic manner," forcing soldiers guarding the area to withdraw, Habu said.

The state government has set up a committee to investigate, he said.

In the worst economic crisis in a generation, many poor Nigerians have had to skip meals and give up products such as meat, eggs and milk.

Earlier this month Nigeria's emergency agency said security had been tightened at its warehouses after hundreds of people looted a food store in the capital Abuja.


AFP


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