More than 100 people were arrested in Nigeria’s commercial capital, Lagos, after bloody riots in the city’s biggest food market left at least three people dead, police said on Friday.
“The police have arrested 105 suspects in connection with the disturbances in and around ‘Mile 12’ market,” Lagos state police spokeswoman Dolapo Badmus told AFP referring to rioting which took place on Thursday.
“Three people died in the fracas. The suspects will be charged shortly with murder, arson and breach of public peace,” she said.
Local media reports put the death toll at between seven and 10.
The trouble reportedly began on Wednesday when a motorbike-taxi driver knocked down a woman at the market, where much of the city’s fruit and vegetables are sold wholesale.
The “okada” rider refused to take the woman to hospital despite appeals from onlookers. She later died, according to the police account.
Irate locals then attacked other “okada” riders, leading to a free-for-all in the area in which a dozen or so cars and buildings were burnt down, Badmus said.
The motorcyclists and market traders are predominantly Hausa, the main ethnic group in northern Nigeria. The wider Mile 12 area is populated by Yoruba, who dominate the southwest.
Ethnic tensions regularly flair in Nigeria, which is almost evenly split between a mainly Muslim north and largely Christian south. Similar clashes have previously erupted in the same market.
The Lagos State government has temporarily shut the market and restricted movement, while armed police and soldiers have been deployed to keep the peace.