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Archive for Sunday, December 24, 2006

Militant group steps up bombing campaign

December 24, 2006

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— A car bomb exploded outside a state government building in Nigeria's southern oil hub Saturday, marking the first targeting of government installations by a militant group that has previously focused attacks on foreign oil companies.

The blast was the latest in a spree of assaults aimed at disrupting oil operations in the Niger River delta. Car bombs hit two foreign compounds Monday, gunmen killed three guards at two other facilities Thursday and a water pipeline to a refinery was reported sabotaged late Friday.

As Africa's largest oil producer, Nigeria has seen its crude output cut by a quarter this year from attacks and kidnappings by criminal gangs seeking payoffs and militants demanding more political power and income for the people of the delta.

The explosion at midday Saturday demolished part of a fence surrounding a building that houses offices of the Rivers State governor and other agencies.

Shards of steel from the shattered vehicle pierced a nearby shipping container, but caused no injuries, said Port Harcourt Deputy Gov. Gabriel Tony, who was inside when the bomb exploded.

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