Nigeria: Gangs Getting Ground Down

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May 28, 2009: Since the 15th, the oil stealing gangs in the Niger Delta have declared war on the military, in reaction to the growing number of raids on gang camps. The military has succeeded partly because they have recruited many useful civilian informants. This is done by letting people know that if they provide information where the gangs are based, there will be less damage, and injuries, to nearby civilians when the troops go in. These raids have not only killed or captured hundreds of gang members in the last few weeks, but have freed dozens of foreign and Nigerian kidnapping victims. The informants are useful in urban areas, but for rural hideouts, civilians are much less willing to talk, and the troops have to search the thousands of kilometers of waterways in the Delta. This is done largely by boat, because many of the camps are hidden, by the forest, from air reconnaissance. The military offensive has been relentless, with a new camp (often quite small, like an early warning outpost) every day. MEND, which still finances itself by stealing oil, is being forced to fight for survival.

Military operations in the last few weeks have caused about 10,000 civilians to flee their homes. The violence has further cut oil production to less than 1.5 million barrels a day. A few years ago, before the attacks became more frequent three years ago, production was 2.5 million barrels a day. This is causing the government to lose about $60 million a day in revenue. The theoretical production capacity of Nigeria is 3.2 million barrels a day.

May 27, 2009: In the Niger Delta Bayelsa state, police captured and turned a MEND leader, Ken Niweigha, who was then killed in the crossfire as he led police to a MEND safe house.

May 26, 2009: Another MEND camp in the Niger Delta was found and destroyed by the military. The rebels have been trying to attack oil facilities, but are being defeated by the security detachments assigned by the military and civilian security firms.

May 20, 2009: The army and navy continue their offensive against gangs in the Niger Delta oil fields. Troops began attacking gang hideouts in the coastal town of Warri. Most of those living along the coast belong to the Ijaw tribe, and tribal leaders are complaining that the anti-gang operations are basically ethnic cleansing of the Ijaw.

 

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