Thursday, March 1, 2012

Gunmen on boats kill four police in Nigeria's delta

1 March 2012

YENAGOA, March 1 (Reuters) - Suspected pirates in speedboats killed four police on Thursday after opening fire on a marine police checkpoint in the creeks of Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta, police said.

Militant activity in the delta has dropped sharply since the main factions signed an amnesty with the government in 2009 but criminal gangs, pirates and oil thieves still roam its swamps and creeks.

"There was an attack on our formation and ... four men from the marine police team were killed," Eguavoen Emokpae, police spokesman for Bayelsa, one of Nigeria's three main oil-producing states, said.

"The reason for the attack is still sketchy."

Security in the delta has improved since militant activity shut down nearly half of Nigeria's oil output around the middle of the last decade. But the situation remains volatile and inflamed by organised crime and local political rivalries.

Pirates opened fire on a Dutch cargo ship a few miles from Nigeria's Port Harcourt on Wednesday, kidnapping the ship's master and an engineer and stealing cash.

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