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Last Updated: Monday, 2 January 2006, 05:31 GMT
Nigeria troops kill 'oil thieves'
Militant sails past oil well
Most of Nigeria's oil comes from the Niger Delta
Security forces in Nigeria have killed 12 men they say were stealing oil from a pipeline in the southern Niger Delta.

Officials said that a gun battle broke out when troops on patrol came across a group using heavy drilling equipment to siphon oil from a pipeline.

Three others in the group, in the remote Oghara community, were wounded and five were arrested.

Correspondents say oil theft is a common practice in one of Africa's biggest oil-producing countries.


The men were caught on Saturday about to siphon the oil into trucks from a pipeline owned by the Pan Ocean Oil Corporation, Nigeria's This Day newspaper said.

Nigerian security forces have been working hard to curb the crime, which is known locally as bunkering.

Pipelines in the region have also been attacked a number of times before.

Some local residents have long claimed they do not benefit from the oil wealth.

The country remains plagued by appalling poverty despite its huge oil wealth.

Nigeria is the world's eighth largest oil producer, and the largest in Africa.

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