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Gunmen Kill Two in Nigerian Oil City


Gunman shot and killed two family members of a newly appointed state official in the southern Nigerian city of Port Harcourt in the Niger Delta. For VOA, Gilbert da Costa reports from Abuja.

Local police commissioner Felix Ogbaudu says Monday night's attack was politically motivated.

"They [new state commissioners] were sworn in yesterday and they went home, they were having lot of merriment at home," he said. "Shortly after they left, some gunmen got to the place and shot his brother dead. A cousin was hit by the bullets and eventually gave up. So, two of them died yesterday. It was more of a politically motivated attempted assassination; it has nothing to do with militancy. Before they [state officials] were sworn in there was bickering."

Analysts say the violence has been exacerbated by the use of local gangs used to intimidate political opponents.

Port Harcourt is the main city in the oil-rich delta region. Political violence has increased since the run-up to countrywide elections in April, which were widely condemned as rigged. Some candidates were murdered during the campaign, while others reported dynamite attacks on their houses and kidnappings of family members.

But, the police chief says recent public outcry regarding the violence by some of the region's gang leaders has eased tensions in the state.

"Some of the militants have come to realize that the militancy will have to stop," he added. "One of the leaders in Okrika, Tom Ateke, called his people together and they renounced all the rubbish they have been doing all these while. They want to stop killings; they want to stop hostage takings and all of that. So I think they are now prepared to give peace a chance."

Watchdog group Transparency International rates Nigeria as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. Most citizens struggle to get by on less than $2 a day in a country where unemployment is high and arms are freely available.

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