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Nigerian Troops Torch Homes After Soldier's Death


Witnesses in southern Nigeria say soldiers have burned hundreds of homes in a poor neighborhood after gunmen on a kidnapping mission killed a soldier.

Residents of the Port Harcourt neighborhood say the troops flew into a rage late Thursday after the death of the soldier, who was said to be protecting foreign oil workers at a local bar.

The Associated Press reports the Nigerian military has denied responsibility. An army official told the news agency that militants wearing soldiers uniforms were responsible for the rampage.

The kidnappers made off with at least two foreign oil workers after shooting the soldier. The hostages are the latest to be abducted in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region.

Kidnappers have taken at least 19 foreign oil workers hostage in the region this month. Three are still missing, while the others have been released.

Nigeria's government began a crackdown on militants in the delta last week, detaining more than 100 people.

Militant groups have been pressing for local communities to receive a greater share of the region's oil wealth. However, many of the recent kidnappings are believed to have been mainly for ransom money.

The kidnappings and other militant attacks in the delta have caused a 20 percent decline in Nigeria's daily oil production since February.