United States Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Monday said United States Ambassador to China Terry Branstad would leave the post.

The United States on Thursday condemned what it called excessive use of force by the Nigerian military for firing on unarmed demonstrators.

Amnesty International says at least 38 people, including 12 in the capital Lagos, were killed by the Nigerian army and police in a brutal crackdown on protesters Tuesday that drew international condemnation.

“We welcome an immediate investigation into any use of excessive force by members of the security forces,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement.

He added that those involved “should be held to account in accordance with Nigerian law”.

“The right to peaceful assembly and freedom of expression are essential human rights and core democratic principles,” Pompeo said.

A high-ranking delegation from the US State Department met Thursday with Nigerian Vice President Yemi Osinbajo in Abuja, as part of a long-planned meeting, according to the department spokesperson.

While there, the delegation reiterated “the US condemnation of the use of excessive force by military forces,” Morgan Ortagus said in a statement.

State Department counselor Ulrich Brechbuhl “urged the government of Nigeria to abide by its commitment to hold those responsible accountable under the law,” Ortagus said.

Nigeria’s army has dubbed as “fake news” reports that soldiers opened fire on demonstrators.

Police Minister Muhammad Maigari Dingyadi told the BBC that troops were not ordered to open fire on protesters.

For nearly two weeks, Nigeria, Africa’s leading economic power and the continent’s most populous country, has been rocked by unprecedented protests that began on social media.

Thousands of young people have been demonstrating against police brutality and the federal administration, which is accused of bad governance.

In addition to the police and army denying any responsibility in the killings, Nigerian president Muhammadu Buhari – a former military leader – was uncompromising on Thursday in the face of the popular uprising.

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