Nigerian oil town wracked by fighting

Nigerian troops have moved into the troubled southern oil city of Warri after five days of ethnic fighting left at least 30 dead and 3000 homeless.

    Nigeria is one of the world's largest oil producers

    Police said on Wednesday they had restored calm after fierce

    fighting between ethnic Ijaws, their Itsekiri rivals

    and security agents.

    "A combined team of soldiers, navy and police are patrolling the

    flashpoints, particularly the McIver and port areas, to ward off

    possible attacks by Ijaw youths," a police official said

    .

    He added sporadic shooting was heard overnight but no major

    incidents were reported.

    Warring parties

    Delta State Governor, James Ibori,

    was due on Wednesday to hold a meeting

    with the warring parties and security forces in the war-weary town.

    Ibori's spokesman Sheddy Ozoene said

    delegates had begun arriving and would begin meeting shortly.

    "It is going to be an enlarged peace meeting involving all the

    security agents - police, army, navy and air force - and leaders

    of the various ethnic groups in Warri," he said.

    "We have directed our staff to be careful about their movement

    in and around Warri to avoid unpleasant circumstances"

    Chevron Texaco spokesman

    Ozoene said the governor hoped the talks would

    finally resolve age-old rivalries over land rights among the three

    main ethnic groups - Ijaw, Itsekiri and Urhobo - in the oil city.

    Oil worries

    The world oil market is already jittery over the crisis in

    Warri, home to much of Nigeria's multi-billion-dollar oil and gas

    wealth.

    Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, which accounts for a third of

    Nigeria's output of two million barrels per day, has ordered

    its workers in the troubled town to stay at home.

    But a company spokesman said on Wednesday oil production had not

    been affected. 

     

    Another big oil player, ChevronTexaco, said it was was studying the

    situation cautiously.

    "We have directed our staff to be careful about their movement

    in and around Warri to avoid unpleasant circumstances, but I can

    assure you that production is going on in the swamps. No disruptions

    at all," an official said.

    SOURCE: AFP


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