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Nation-wide Strike Underway in Nigeria - 2004-10-11

A nation-wide strike is under way in Nigeria to protest fuel price increases in the oil-rich west African nation.

Reports from Abuja, the Nigerian capital, and Lagos, the country's commercial cenbter, say many schools and businesses are closed and city streets are empty of traffic.

The Nigeria Labor Congress called the four-day stoppage after fuel prices in Nigeria rose by 25 percent last month when government-mandated deregulation removed some price subsidies.

Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo insists higher prices are needed to generate renevue for education and other social services.

Nigeria is the largest oil exporter in Africa and its residents enjoy some of the lowest fuel prices in the world.

Strike organizers say this week's stoppage will be followed by an indefinite strike in two weeks, if the government does not lower fuel prices.

Market analysts say the strike is likely to send already-record high world oil prices even higher.