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Fighting Flares in Nigerian City

August 18, 2003|From Reuters

WARRI, Nigeria — Four people were killed, 54 were wounded and dozens of houses were set ablaze Sunday as rival ethnic militias waged gun battles in the southern Nigerian oil city of Warri for the third consecutive day, witnesses said.

The violence is the most serious since March, when an ethnic Ijaw rebellion forced oil companies to evacuate key installations and shut down 40% of the OPEC member's oil output.

Nigerian Red Cross President Emmanuel Ijewere said some of the wounded were shot and others were slashed by machetes in the clashes between the Ijaw and Itsekiri ethnic groups. About 55 houses had been torched, he added.

The violence made it impossible to get a true picture of the death toll. Ijewere said he was withdrawing his staff because of the deteriorating situation.

Ijaws and Itsekiris traded blame for the violence, which is rooted in disputes over land and political power.

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