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Analysis: Nigerian forces kill gang leader

disclaimer: image is for illustration purposes only
by Carmen Gentile
Washington DC (UPI) Jan 14, 2009
Nigerian forces said they have killed the head of one of the country's notorious gangs in the oil-rich Niger Delta, part of an ongoing battle between gunmen and Nigerian forces in the region.

Tubotamuno Angolia was captured in the delta and subsequently killed when he tried to escape, according to military spokesman Lt. Col. Sagir Musa, Nigerian news sources reported Wednesday.

The capture and death of Angolia, better known by his nickname "Boy Chiki," followed the recent deaths of two Nigerian soldiers by unknown gunmen in the delta.

Whether Angolia was affiliated with the gunmen who were responsible for the latest soldier killings was unclear, said Nigerian military officials.

It also remained uncertain whether Angolia was a member of the delta's leading militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, which says it is fighting for a more equitable distribution of Nigeria's oil wealth to the region's impoverished.

High unemployment in the delta, environmental degradation caused by spills during oil and gas extraction, and a lack of basic resources such as fresh water and electricity have angered some of the region's youth and incited them to take up arms, forming militant groups such as MEND.

MEND in recent months has made specific threats against soldiers in the delta, during which time several have been killed by unknown gunmen and those claiming to be members of the militant group.

The new offensive, directed primarily against soldiers, and not oil workers and oil and gas installations, is a marked change of tactic by the delta's armed groups, said Mark Schroeder, a sub-Saharan Africa analyst for Stratfor Strategic Forecasting Inc.

"There seems to be a cease-fire regarding the oil industry," Schroeder told United Press International Wednesday, "while their latest threats seem aimed only at military officers in the region."

The Nigerian military earned the added ire of militants in the delta last month when it captured a high-ranking MEND leader, Sobomabo Jackrich.

The capture of Jackrich came on the heels of several new initiatives aimed at curtailing violence in the delta.

In November, the Nigerian government created a "security panel" aimed at ridding the Niger Delta of gunmen and militants in the next three months.

The panel, made up of military officials, civilian authorities, government officials and intelligence officers, will embark on the ambitious effort of reducing violence in a region where attacks by armed gunmen on both onshore and offshore oil facilities have caused Nigeria's oil production to fall by more than 20 percent over the last few years.

Oil production, once reaching about 2.5 million barrels per day, has declined 1.88 million bpd, according to estimates by Nigerian energy officials released Tuesday.

While the panel has put forward an audacious agenda for remedying the delta's woes, the effort is not original or without past failure. Both the current administration of Nigerian President Umaru Yar'Adua and the administration of his predecessor, Olusegun Obasanjo, have tried, unsuccessfully, to make headway against the militant groups that have pledged to ramp up attacks in the delta.

In December Nigeria named a new minister to tackle the problems of militancy and violence in the delta.

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Iran and China sign oilfield development contract
Tehran (AFP) Jan 14, 2009
Iran and China on Wednesday signed a 1.76 billion dollar contract for the initial development of the North Azadegan oil field in western Iran, an Iranian oil ministry official said.







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