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Oil Theft: Man Dies In Clash Between Rival Gangs, Soldiers In Bayelsa

A 20-year-old man in Ondewari, a community in southern Ijaw local government area in Bayelsa State, has died in a clash between soldiers and youths suspected to be oil thieves and pipeline vandals.

Peresho Erefawari, acting paramount ruler of Ondewari, said on Thursday in Yenagoa, the state capital, that the young man was shot and killed on Wednesday.

Decrying the constant clash between soldiers and youths in the community over illegal oil-related activities, Mr. Erefawari said the crisis in the oil-rich zone had not subsided.

He called on the federal and state governments to intervene in the crisis in order to avert further loss of lives. He regretted that two youths in the community had so far lost their lives as a result of the ongoing crisis.

“The clash was caused by a protest by some youths in the community, who were aggrieved over their exclusion in the petroleum task force committee set up by the local government council.

“The youths are suspected to be pipeline vandals, who often connive with security operatives deployed to the area in the very lucrative illegal oil deals.

“The petroleum task force committee enlisted the support of soldiers attached to a multinational company in the area to ward off the youths who are also armed.

“Some of the youths have fled from the community,” said Mr. Erefawari. He added that the latest clash, the second in four days, had left several people injured.

The Joint Task Force (JTF) in the Niger Delta, “Operation Delta Safe,” denied any involvement by their troops in the violence. A soldier there told SaharaReporters that soldiers were not involved in the killing of the youth. He said youths in the community had been clashing with soldiers over pipeline surveillance contract.