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Nigerian troops burn Delta slums

Posted by BBC News on 2006/08/25 | Views: 567 |

Nigerian troops burn Delta slums


Nigerian soldiers have set fire to hundreds of slum houses near where armed men killed a soldier during the kidnapping of foreign oil workers.

Nigerian soldiers have set fire to hundreds of slum houses near where armed men killed a soldier during the kidnapping of foreign oil workers.


Residents in the city of Port Harcourt say the troops became angry when they learned one of their colleagues had been killed in a shootout.


Hundreds fled with their belongings as the fire spread through the slum area.


Last week, the army was sent into the oil-producing Niger Delta to arrest militants after several kidnappings.


  The soldiers are asking why we let the militants in to kill their soldier


Slum resident


At least three foreigners were abducted by gunmen from a bar close to the offices of a subsidiary of the Italian oil company, Eni, on Thursday night, near where the slums were burnt.


During the kidnapping, a soldier protecting the workers was shot and killed.


Details of casualties from the burning of the houses are unclear.


Surprised


A few residents have now returned to pick through the charred remains, hoping to recover some of their belongings.


"I am surprised our own soldiers could do this to us," one resident, who gave his name only as James, told Reuters news agency.


"They came here, poured petrol and set fire to our property and houses to kill us. What offence have we committed?"


 "The soldiers are asking why we let the militants in to kill their soldier," said another resident, who declined to be named.


The Nigerian military has yet to comment on the incident.


It comes just a week after the Nigerian president ordered the police and army to take a new tough line with the armed men, who have been responsible for at least seven separate kidnappings in the space of a few weeks.


As part of the new policy, security forces last week raided another slum inside the city and arrested more than 100 people, though most were later released.


The BBC's Alex Last in Nigeria says what concerns local leaders, and the oil companies, is that this new tough policy will only increase tensions in an already volatile region.


The abductions and attacks on oil facilities have led to oil companies withdrawing staff, cutting Nigeria's oil production by a quarter.


Oil industry sources say hostage-taking has become an attractive business, as oil companies strike clandestine ransom deals - frowned upon by the government.

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Fay(Katy, Texas, US)says...

Actually translates to bravehearted.