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BBC News: Professor shot in Nigerian Delta

BBC News image Nigeria

(Delta militants have carried out a series of attacks and abductions)

Wednesday, 25 July 2007

Unknown gunmen on motorcycles have shot and wounded a US-based British professor and a security guard in Nigeria’s oil city, Port Harcourt.

Professor Michael Watts was in Port Harcourt to attend an awards ceremony at a local newspaper office.

In another oil city, Yenagoa, the mother of a local state legislator was kidnapped on Tuesday night.

A Nigerian oil worker was also shot dead in his home in Rivers State, say police.

Professor Watts from Bristol, who said he had taught in the US for years, told AP news agency he thought they had been followed from a bank.
 
“I’m feeling a little rattled, like everyone in the office… Thank God no-one was seriously injured … it could have been much worse.”

Ibiba Donpedro, the journalist for whom the ceremony had been organized, said the gunmen arrived at the newspaper office on at least two motorcycles.

“The next thing, we heard shots all over. Young men came in, shot the (professor) on the hand, ransacked the offices, shot up the windows, shot the security guy on the leg, and left,” she said.

“They were saying, ‘Where’s the white man? Where’s the money from the bank?'” she says.

She could not say whether the attack, in which the office was destroyed and two laptops were stolen, was a simple armed robbery or linked to the paper’s recent investigation of alleged links between local politicians and criminal gangs.

Kidnap

The gunmen who kidnapped the mother of the Bayelsa State local assembly speaker in Yenagoa arrived in two boats on Tuesday night, a local vigilante group leader said.

The kidnapping was the third attack on officials – or those close to them – this week in the volatile oil-rich Niger Delta.

A politician from neighbouring Delta state was found dead on Monday.

On the same day, gunmen in Port Harcourt stormed the house of a newly appointed energy official and killed two family members.

More than 150 foreigners – mostly oil workers – and many Nigerians have been kidnapped in the region so far this year.

The hostages are usually released unharmed after ransom payments that are always denied by the Nigerian authorities and the oil companies concerned.

Despite being Africa’s top oil producer and the sixth largest exporter crude to the US, the Niger Delta remains heavily impoverished.

Attacks on oil installations have cut Nigeria’s oil daily production by about 25%, helping to drive up world oil prices.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/6916080.stm

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