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Trump's Remarks Are Already Being Used To Justify Shooting Protesters

The Nigerian army posted a video of Trump after it was accused of killing 45 demonstrators.

Last updated on November 2, 2018, at 2:53 p.m. ET

Posted on November 2, 2018, at 11:18 a.m. ET

Nicholas Kamm / AFP / Getty Images

President Donald Trump said in a speech on Thursday that rocks thrown by migrants on the US–Mexico border should be considered as firearms. By Friday, the Nigerian army had already used a video of the speech to justify shooting protesters that a human rights group said were unarmed.

Trump made the comments in a White House speech on immigration, as thousands of troops were deployed to the southern border. Much of the speech focused on the migrant caravan that has been a focus of Trump’s in the run-up to the midterm elections.

“We’re not going to put up with that. If they want to throw rocks at our military, our military fights back,” he said. “We’re going to consider — and I told them, consider it a rifle.”

On Friday, the official Twitter account of the Nigerian army tweeted a video of the comments, along with the words “please watch and make your deductions.”

Earlier this week, Nigerian soldiers and police fired live bullets at Shiite Muslim protesters in the capital, Abuja.

Amnesty International said at least 45 members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria (IMN) organization were killed while holding what the human rights group described as peaceful demonstrations.

Mudashiru Atanda / AFP / Getty Images

Mourners prepare to bury alleged victims of the violent clashes in Abuja.

The Nigerian military has said the protesters were armed and disputes the death toll, saying instead that just six people died.

The casualty of IMN stands at 4 wounded and 3 dead at Zuba while at the Nyanya - Mararaba road checkpoint, 3 died with 3 wounded. The military also had 6 of its personnel seriously wounded and currently at intensive care.

Osai Ojigho, director of Amnesty International Nigeria, said, “We have seen a shocking use of deadly force by soldiers and police against IMN members.

“Video footage and eyewitness testimonies consistently show that the Nigerian military dispersed peaceful gatherings by firing live ammunition without warning, in clear violation of Nigerian and international law.”

REUTERS/Paul Carsten

Members of the Islamic Movement in Nigeria gesture during a march to demand the release of their Nigerian Shiite leader, Ibrahim Zakzaky.

Speaking to the AFP, Nigeria’s defense spokesperson Brig. Gen. John Agim confirmed that the army had posted the video of Trump in response to criticism it had acted unlawfully.

But by Friday evening, the army had taken down the tweet. It is unclear what prompted them to do so.

Trump’s comments were quickly condemned in the US, including by former military officials, who said that firing on migrants throwing rocks would be against the law.

FWIW, there is no leader in the military - Officer or NCO - who would allow a soldier to shoot at an individual throwing a rock. They know that violates the rules of engagement, the law of land warfare & the values those in the military believe. It would be an unlawful order.

Speaking to reporters on Friday afternoon, Trump walked back his comments. “They won’t have to fire," Trump said. "What I don’t want is I don’t want these people throwing rocks. [...] They do that with us, they’re going to be arrested."

A BuzzFeed News investigation, in partnership with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists, based on thousands of documents the government didn't want you to see.