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Nigeria: Delta Rebels Want to Negotiate
   
August 29, 2006: The Delta region is becoming a more dangerous place. The separatist rebels have kidnapped 19 foreigners so far this month, with most quickly released after payment of ransom. But more and more locals are using the money to buy guns. This is leading to more gun battles. It goes on day and night, because soldiers, cops and gunmen often go to the same bars and clubs after the sun goes down.

MONDP (The Movement of The Niger Delta People), one of the main separatist gangs in the Delta, wants to negotiate a ceasefire. Apparently they feel the escalating violence will do the separatists more harm than good.

August 28, 2006: Four kidnappers were arrested as they picked up the ransoms.

August 25, 2006: Police attacked a settlement near an Italian oil company in Port Harcourt in the Delta, near where two foreigners had recently been kidnapped. The police burned down the settlement, destroying several hundred homes in what was basically a slum. The inhabitants were suspected of being involved in the kidnappings.

August 24, 2006: Two more foreigners were kidnapped in the Delta. Gunfire is increasingly heard, as security forces skirmish with separatists and oil theft gangs. Increasingly, the foreigners are being napped for ransom, not for jobs or other concessions to nearby tribes.

August 23, 2006: In the Delta, six foreigners were released, after being held for ten days. Ransom of about $26,000 was paid for the release of each man. Another ten captives were released recently as well, but little is known of their ransoms.

August 21, 2006: Police and separatists clashed in the Niger Delta, leaving eleven dead (most of them rebels).