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Nigeria—Conflict and Instability in Niger Delta over Oil

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Yesterday, five Chinese workers and an Italian were set free after being held hostage by groups in the Niger Delta, Nigeria's main oil-producing region.

Beijing said the five Chinese telecoms workers were rescued, but the region's police chief said they were handed over by their captors to diplomats.

On Tuesday, three people were killed when armed robbers opened fire on their boat near the Bonny Island oil and gas export complex.

It's part of a growing wave of violence in Africa's oil heartland that has forced thousands of foreigners to leave and reduced crude oil exports by a fifth. Armed militants disrupt production to draw greater attention to the profound inequality in the country.

Despite generating hundreds of billions of dollars over the last few decades, Nigerian oil wealth hasn't trickled-down to people living in the delta.

The continuing violence comes ahead of presidential elections slated for April. Constitutionally President Olusegun Obasanjo, must step down. If successful, the election would mark the first time Nigeria has successfully transferred power from one elected leader to another since the early 60's.

Jon Marks is the Editor of African Energy Online, a publication that follows the African energy industry.
The news from Nigeria's delta region is so bad now it reads almost like it Iraq.

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