Nigeria: Trigger Happy and Capricious

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September 5, 2006: Police have broken up two kidnapping gangs, both of them connected with tribal separatist groups in the Niger Delta. The police tracked down the gangs through the middlemen who negotiated the ransoms. The recent increase in kidnappings, brought about a sharp increase in military and police activity to find and take down the kidnapping gangs. That resulted in hundreds of arrests and at least two dozen deaths. Tribal leaders have complained that the troops were trigger happy and capricious in their search for the kidnappers, which was probably true. That's how the army and police tend to operate.
September 4, 2006: Some 250 American military trainers have set up a training program for military medical personnel, to show them how to deal with disaster relief situations. The two week training course will cost $4 million and involve the actual treatment of about a thousand patients. In the past few years, the Nigerian armed forces has failed to deal adequately with medical care at disasters (like plane crashes or natural disasters). The training will be held in northern Nigeria, in an attempt to reach out of Moslem Nigerians.
September 3, 2006: A battalion of 700 soldiers departed for peacekeeping duty in Sudan.
September 1, 2006: A kidnapped Lebanese man was freed by police in the Delta. The victim had been taken on August 18th, and was freed with the help of villagers who feared retribution from the military.
August 31, 2006: The increased number of soldiers and police in the Niger Delta region has greatly reduced the oil theft problem. In 2005, 150,000 barrels a day were being lost, while currently the loss is only 20,000 barrels a day. The reduction in income has angered the thousands of thieves who were making most of that money. Despite over 3,000 weapons seized by the army and police in the last two years, replacement weapons have been smuggled in by gunrunners.

 

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