Armed robbers shot a U.S. professor and a security guard in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt on Wednesday, the latest violent incident in the anarchic oil-producing Niger Delta.
YENAGOA, Nigeria, July 25 (Reuters) - Armed robbers shot a U.S. professor and a security guard in the Nigerian city of Port Harcourt on Wednesday, the latest violent incident in the anarchic oil-producing Niger Delta.
Michael Watts, a Berkeley, California-based expert on oil-related violence in the delta, was in hospital with bullet wounds in the hand after a newspaper office he was visiting came under attack, one of his friends said.
The security guard, a Nigerian, was also in hospital with bullet wounds.
"About eight or nine armed robbers were trailing him. They shot the security guard, gained access to the office which they ransacked and stole $600 from the professor," said the friend, who was at his bedside in hospital and asked not to be named.
The incident came the morning after suspected ransom-seekers kidnapped the mother of the speaker of the state house of assembly in neighbouring Bayelsa state.
It was the latest in a spate of abductions of relatives of powerful people in the Niger Delta. The 3-year-old son of a traditional ruler was released on July 13.
The Niger Delta is home to Africa's biggest oil industry which exports about 2.4 million barrels of crude per day. It has become increasingly dangerous since early 2006 when armed groups demanding control over oil revenues stepped up attacks.
Numerous criminal gangs have seized the opportunity to carry out abductions for ransom, armed robberies and other crimes that have nothing to do with the political struggle in the impoverished delta. (Additional reporting by Estelle Shirbon in Abuja)