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Violent Nigerian Oil Delta Gets Reprieve in Cease-fire

Ijaw militants battling soldiers and tribal enemies in Nigeria’s oil-rich delta region called for a cease-fire yesterday after state officials agreed to support their political demands. Bello Oboko, president of the militant Federated Niger Delta Ijaw Communities, whose fighters have spent two weeks battling government troops and rival Itsekiris, said Delta State Governor James Ibori agreed Tuesday to help renegotiate electoral boundaries the Ijaws say favor their enemies. At least 100 people, including 10 soldiers, have been killed in the fighting. Many witnesses say the actual death toll is far higher. Twenty-five villages — 15 Itsekiri and 10 Ijaw — either have been partially or completely destroyed since fighting began March 12. Ibori “promised to meet our political demands and prevail on the military not to launch reprisal attacks against Ijaw communities,” Oboko said. The Ijaws were prepared to stop fighting “in order to help Ibori intervene” on their behalf, Oboko said. Ibori’s spokesman, Abel Oshevire, confirmed that the governor was asking Nigeria’s electoral commission to “redraw electoral wards.” Until then, he called on all sides to lay down their weapons. Full Story

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