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news24.com: Vice-president’s home blown up

16/05/2007 10:18  – (SA)   

Yenagoa, Nigeria – Unknown attackers destroyed the country home of Nigeria’s vice president-elect, Goodluck Jonathan, with dynamite on Wednesday and blew up a nearby police station, killing one officer, officials said.

The attacks came before dawn in oil-rich southern Bayelsa state, where Jonathan is currently governor, said the region’s police chief, Julian Okpalake.

He said there were no immediate reports of casualties in the attack on Jonathan’s home, which is not his primary residence.

Official results from Nigeria’s April 21 presidential elections showed the ruling party candidates, Jonathan and president-elect Umaru Yar’Adua, the landslide winners.

But the opposition says the vote was rigged and international observers called the election deeply flawed, characterised by ballot box stuffing and illegal acts by electoral officials.

In some regions, particularly in the oil-rich, southern Niger Delta region that includes Bayelsa state, the ruling party was announced the runaway winner in areas where no voting actually took place, observers say.

Militancy has flourished in recent years in the region, which remains deeply poor despite boasting virtually all of the oil reserves in Africa’s biggest producer. Residents say government officials steal much of the oil funds.

Common form of protest

A series of attacks on oil infrastructure and kidnappings of foreign workers has cut output by nearly one third, driving crude prices higher in overseas markets.

On Tuesday, Royal Duth Shell PLC announced that protesters had occupied an oil facility elsewhere in the southern region, causing oil production cuts of 170 000 barrels per day.

Occupying oil facilities is a common form of protest in the volatile Niger Delta region, which remains deeply impoverished despite producing tens of billions in oil revenues every year.

Since no foreign oil company is currently active in Ogoniland, the region has not seen the kidnappings and attacks on foreign workers that have plagued production in much of the rest of the Delta region.

Around 100 foreign workers have been kidnapped since the beginning of the year and last week the region’s largest militant group bombed three pipelines leading to a major export terminal, helping send crude prices higher in world markets.

In an apparently unrelated incident on Tuesday, youths protesting an oil spill in a western area of the vast region occupied a separate oil installation.

Chevron Corp spokesperson Femi Odumabo said that facility was capable of producing more than 6 000 barrels per day, but had already been shut down due to earlier unrest.

Nigeria is one of the world’s top 10 exporters of crude and a key source of oil imports for the United States.

http://www.news24.com/News24/Africa/News/0,,2-11-1447_2114029,00.html

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