Dozens injured, arrested in Niger student protests

NIAMEY - At least a dozen students were injured and around 20 others arrested when hundreds of students, angered by delays in payment of living stipends, clashed with police in Niger's capital Niamey late on Tuesday, health and police officials said.

Police fired teargas and used truncheons to disperse the University of Niamey students after they attacked the government agency responsible for disbursing the stipends. "We receive social assistance that the (agency) pays to us. It only lacked the signature of the director," Anifa Arzika, a spokesman for the students, told journalists. "He persisted in delaying things, which provoked the students' anger." Local residents said the students ransacked the agency's offices then damaged nearby cars and motorcycles, before throwing rocks at police who arrived to disperse them.

A police source, who asked not to be named as he was not authorised to speak to the press, told Reuters that about 20 students were taken into custody.

The students then erected barricades and burned tyres on the city's streets. Clashes were continuing in areas near the university campus at around 2030 GMT.

Health officials at two hospitals contacted by Reuters said around a dozen students had been treated for injuries sustained in the clashes.

Niger, the fourth-largest uranium producer, is also one of Africa's newest oil producers but remains but remains one of the world's poorest countries.