Nigeria: And It Gets Worse...


January24, 2007: Kidnapping foreigners is becoming the new get-rich-quick scheme. Police appear unable to stop it, or recover the victims. Colombia and the Philippines both underwent a similar outburst of kidnapping in the past decade. In both cases, it was a few gangs that were specializing in it, and accounted for most of the people taken. Once the police were able to take out the key players, the kidnapping stopped. Nigerian police have been unable to deal with gangs so far, so this will be a crucial test if order can be restored.

January 23, 2007:Two foreign engineers (British and American) were seized in the Niger Delta, and held for $11 million ransom.

January 22, 2007:The navy assembled 13 ships, four helicopters and two boats in the Niger Delta for a training exercise. This is a major portion of the fleet, and cannot be sustained in the Delta because of a shortage of spare parts, money and fuel.

January 20, 2007:Rebels kidnapped 24 Filipino sailors from a German cargo ship at anchor in the Niger Delta.

January 19, 2007:India is providing counter-terrorism for select officers and NCOs. The training is being provided free.

January 18, 2007:Niger delta rebels released six foreigners (five Chinese and an Italian). The foreign oil workers apparently were ransomed, although there is rarely public acknowledgement of ransom (as this encourages more kidnappings.) Two Italians and a Lebanese are still being held by a group that is more political. The Chinese were held by a gang that was mainly in it for the money. The Italian released was ill.

January 17, 2007:A newspaper editor was arrested and accused of receiving $300,000 from al Qaeda sources in Sudan, for the purpose of assisting Islamic terrorism in Nigeria. It's common for editors to take bribes, but the terrorism angle is unusual. However, the evidence against the editor is quite extensive, and connects him with a Nigerian "Taliban" group that was put down by the government three years ago.

Fear of rebel attacks have caused an oil company to shut down another pipeline, which normally moved 12,000 barrels of oil a day. That's about a quarter billion dollars worth of oil a year.

January 16, 2007:Additional troops were sent to the Niger Delta, after a dozen people were killed over the weekend due to fighting over tribal politics.


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