Nigerian navy blows up pirate boats : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

WARRI, Nigeria (Reuters) -- The Nigerian navy began exploding 11 boats worth $3.6 million in a public display of punishment on Thursday after they were seized from pirates terrorising the waterways of the Niger Delta, officials said.

Warri naval base executive officer Yusuf Hinna said the demonstration was intended to send a message to the bandits who operate on the Forcados River in Nigeria's southern Delta State, taking oil workers hostage and stealing property and oil. "They are destroying eight barges, two canoes and one motorized boat," Hinna told Reuters. "The total value is about 400 million naira ($3.6 million) and the operation is based on the orders of the president."

The first boats were due to be blown up at Bennett Island about two hours south from Warri, between 8 and 9 a.m., before the navy headed onto the high seas for the rest, Hinna said. The Warri naval base began exploding boats seized from pirates in April last year. Thursday's demonstration is the third of its kind at the Warri base. The Port Harcourt naval base carried out a similar exercise a few months ago.

The navy said there has been a noticeable decrease in crime on the waterways since the demonstrations began, but could not immediately give figures. Pirates often prowl the waterways in the Niger Delta taking expatriate oil workers hostage and holding them for ransom. Last week the navy arrested six suspected pirates including one man who claimed to be a pastor but was armed with two assault rifles. Bunkering, where thieves smash open oil pipelines and use shovels to scoop crude oil into barges is also common.

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-- Rich Marsh (, September 04, 2001

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