Nigeria: China Makes Demands


January6, 2007: Over the last two weeks, violence between the military and the oil gangs in the Delta, has risen sharply. At least a dozen soldiers have been killed, with even more gang members dead or missing. Some of the gang dead are the result of gangs fighting each other. The disputes are often over money. While the government has troops all over the Niger delta trying to restore order, and free kidnapped foreign workers, most of the violence is about money, not politics. About 70 percent of Nigeria's population lives at poverty level, with income of under $500 a year. Thus stealing oil, armed robbery and burglary are all attractive enterprises for young men in the Niger delta, and elsewhere in the country as well.

January 5, 2007: Five Chinese telecommunications workers were kidnapped in the Niger delta. China, which is a growing investor, trading partner and supplier of weapons in Africa, demanded that Nigeria recover the men quickly.

January 3, 2007: The oil company that employed the four foreign workers held captive by MEND, tried to use $545,000 to obtain the release of their men. But the rebels kept the cash, saying they had foiled a bribery attempt, and kept the hostages.

December 31, 2006: MEND rebels moved their four foreign hostages deeper into the jungle waterways of the Niger river delta, suspecting that the military was planning a rescue mission.

December 30, 2006: Partial results of the census held earlier this year, were released. The population has doubled, to 140 million, since the last census in 1991. Information on the current size of each of the country's 250 tribes, will not be released until the April elections. The tribal numbers are crucial as they give each group a number to use when demanding a share of oil wealth, or political representation.

December 25, 2006: Outside Lagos, a large group of people were stealing petroleum from a punctured pipeline, when the fuel caught fire, and killed 248, with several hundred receiving non-fatal burns.


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