- The Washington Times - Thursday, March 27, 2003

More than 100 killed in delta region fighting
LAGOS Ijaw militants battling soldiers and tribal foes in Nigeria's oil-rich delta region called for a cease-fire yesterday after they said state officials agreed to support their 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 Gov. James Ibori had agreed 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 damaged or destroyed since fighting began March 12.
Two weeks of violence in the region, where nearly all of Nigeria's oil is located, prompted oil multinationals to evacuate their staff and cut oil exports by more than 800,000 barrels a day 40 percent of the country's normal daily output of 2 million barrels. Nigeria is the world's sixth-largest exporter and fifth-largest source of U.S. oil imports.

Rebels on 3 fronts hit Taylor government
MONROVIA Rebels battled forces loyal to President Charles Taylor on three fronts yesterday in the most sustained effort to oust the West African country's leader this year.
Defense and humanitarian sources said there was fighting close to this capital, in the central city of Gbarnga and also in towns near the eastern border with Ivory Coast. This year's dry-season offensive has been the fiercest since the rebel Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) began their war against Mr. Taylor in 2000.
The fighting is over control of diamonds, gold and timber resources, as well as deep-seated tribal enmities that were exacerbated by a seven-year civil war in the 1990s that killed 200,000 people.
LURD rebels briefly seized Gbarnga last year before being driven out. The town was Mr. Taylor's main base during the civil war that ended in 1996. He was elected president in 1997 and is expected to run again in October.

26 LRA guerrillas die in one week
KAMPALA The Ugandan army said yesterday that it has killed 12 fighters of the rebel Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) in two separate battles in the northern district of Kitgum.
Ten of the insurgents were gunned down when a helicopter gunship fired on them in the Acholi Ranch area Tuesday, army spokesman Lt. Paddy Ankunda announced. Two other rebels were shot by ground troops in the same area, he added.
The latest combat victims bring to 26 the number of rebels killed between March 19 and March 26, Lt. Ankunda said.
The army rescued 145 civilians abducted by the LRA during the same period, he added.
The LRA has battled President Yoweri Museveni's government for 15 years, saying it seeks to enforce the biblical Ten Commandments. But the group is better known for atrocities against civilians.

Weekly notes …
South African politician Patricia de Lille, known for her outspokenness, announced yesterday the formation of the Independent Democrats, a new party she says will be more effective in next year's general elections than the existing opposition. Mrs. de Lille, 52, resigned as a member of the Pan Africanist Congress, but will not lose her parliamentary seat because of a 15-day window allowing politicians to switch parties. … Nigeria President Olusegun Obasanjo and three rivals in the April 19 presidential election were to meet in a live TV debate yesterday on Voice of America's "Straight Talk Africa." Sharing the spotlight were retired Gen. Muhammadu Buhari of the All Nigeria People's Party, human rights lawyer Gani Fawehinmi, and Emeka Odumegwu-Ojukwu, a former secessionist leader.

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