Monday, 7 February 2011

Attack On Ayakoromo Village: Nigeria Video Shows Differences With Official View Of Army Attack

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By Benoit Faucon, Dow Jones Newswires
LONDON (Dow Jones)--Apparent discrepancies have emerged with the official army version of a Dec. 1 military attack in a Niger Delta village. A confidential video seen by Dow Jones Newswires suggests a skirmish with militants--used by the army to explain local civilian deaths--actually took place in a different place and hours earlier.
The video document is an example of issues between villagers and the military in Africa's largest oil basin, where militants and disgruntled locals have sabotaged pipelines.
The official version given by a spokesman said the army responded to militant fire emanating from the community of Ayakoromo, and that most of the dead were gunmen. The incident in Delta state, which is home to oil terminals exporting nearly half of Nigeria's output, received widespread coverage at the time, although the soldiers' candid accounts haven't been made public before.
The statements of military personnel involved in the attack, taken two days later as they were confronted by locals amid the charred ruins of the village, shows most of the dead were killed in a different location than the skirmish with militants.
When asked by villagers why the army shot at them, a commander in charge of the operation said: "Immediately when we passed Gbekubu [on the way] to Ayakoromo, there was heavy fire." Gbekubu is located about two kilometers from Ayakoromo.
General Charles Omoregie, who heads the army Joint Task Force also asks locals: "The dead, was it the result of crossfire?" The response of a community leader is unequivocal: "It [the skirmish] was outside" the community of Ayakoromo.
The village leader tells the general the army entered the community hours after the skirmish. He says that "after two hours [following the ambush], the thing went up" in Ayakoromo, which is also spelt Ayakoromor. In the video, army officials didn't challenge the remarks.
New unrest in Nigeria could add to oil supply fears after turmoil in Egypt pushed prices above $100 a barrel last week, rekindling concerns over a new global economic recession.!/Newgenafrica

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