Nigeria: Delta of Thieves


June 9, 2006: The problem in the Delta oil region is that there are 3,500 oil and gas facilities (wells, pumping stations, workshops, warehouses and so on) in an area covering 75,000 square kilometers. The armed forces and police don't have enough manpower to guard all of these targets. The Delta region has ample waterways for the gangs, using speedboats, to concentrate on a facility, carry out a violent attack, and get away before government reinforcements can arrive.

Fortunately for the government, the gunmen are more interested in making money than in actually setting up a separate country. But the gangs, which are tribe-based, maintain their popular support with kidnappings and demands that locals be given more jobs. Meanwhile, the gangs get rich stealing oil, in addition to other criminal scams (robbery, extortion, smuggling).

June 8, 2006: The five kidnapped South Koreans were freed when the imprisoned gang leader told his men to release the captives. This is expected to make it easier for the gang leader to beat the rap when he goes on trial.

June 7, 2006: Five South Korean oil facility technicians were kidnapped by a gang from the Delta region. The kidnappers would free the South Koreans if the government released the gang's leader, a tribal rebel held for treason since last September. The raid left five soldiers dead, and much property damage to an oil facility and support structures.

June 4, 2006: In the Delta region, unidentified kidnappers released the eight foreign oil workers nabbed two days earlier. Apparently a ransom had been paid. The kidnappers are believed to be locals who believed they were promised jobs by the oil company, but never got them. The oil company says that it operates 70 kilometers off the coast, and is under no obligation to provide jobs for any coastal village that demands it.

June 2, 2006: A gang raided an offshore oil platform and kidnapped sixteen oil workers. Eight of the captives are foreigners (six British, one American and one Canadian).




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