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Witnesses: Nigerian Troops Attack Villages in Oil Delta

Nigerian troops on Tuesday attacked four villages suspected of harboring ethnic militants involved in fighting that has crippled multinational oil operations, witnesses said. Army spokesman Col. Chukwuemeka Onwuamaegbu denied responsibility for the attacks, blaming violence on Ijaws and Itsekiri fighters. At least 100 people have been reported killed since March 12, when ethnic fighting between Ijaw and Itsekiris drew in the army. Boatloads of soldiers fired at the swampy Niger Delta villages of Oburu-Gbene, Pepe-Ama, Teiteipo and Feitorubo, witnesses said. Casualty reports from the remote region were incomplete. Eighteen people were killed in Pepe-Ama, said John Pebemimigo, a resident who said he saw eight of the bodies. Nigeria’s military has repeatedly denied targeting civilians, yet warns it reserves the right to use military strikes against Ijaw activists accused of ambushing military patrols. Thousands of army, navy and police reinforcements have been rushed into the Niger Delta’s warren of marshes and creeks, including three navy frigates full of troops on Monday. Full Story

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