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The protesters began to march, passing soldiers who slung their assault rifles over their shoulders, allowing them to walk on. But as they drew closer to the surrounded Lagos park, around 20 soldiers arrived in two pickup trucks to cut them off, with bayonets affixed to their assault rifles. They told the protesters to go back and some of them began to turn around.

Soldiers fired into the air and tear gassed the crowd to disperse it, leaving protesters running through a stinging white cloud as gunshots echoed down the highway.

Meanwhile, authorities also targeted some foreign media outlets in Lagos. Officers of the State Security Service, Nigeria’s secret police, raided an office compound Monday used by the BBC and CNN, witnesses said. Marilyn Ogar, a secret police spokeswoman, said she had no information about the raid.

Though an oil workers association threatened to cut Nigeria’s crude oil production, they held off. Such a shutdown could have shaken oil futures, as Nigeria is the fifth-largest crude supplier to the U.S.

Meanwhile, an offshore rig being run for a Chevron Corp. subsidiary near Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta caught fire and officials tried to account for all the workers there, the oil company said. Chevron spokesman Scott Walker said the fire started early Monday morning. Government officials blamed the fire on an industrial accident.

 

Associated Press writers Bashir Adigun and Lekan Oyekanmi in Abuja, Nigeria; Ibrahim Garba in Kano, Nigeria; and Yinka Ibukun in Lagos contributed to this report.