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By Dino Mahtani
Published: October 11 2006 03:00 | Last updated: October 11 2006 03:00

Gunmen yesterday invaded an oil facility operated by Royal Dutch Shell in the southern Niger Delta, taking 60 people hostage and forcing the company to shut down 12,000 barrels a day of oil output, writes Dino Mahtani.

Security sources said the invasion of the Nun river facility appeared to be a dispute between members of the Oporoma community in the southern state of Bayelsa rather than a militant operation.

Disputes between local people and oil companies are frequent in the delta, fuelled by poverty and neglect of local communities by state governments.

Many delta communities have no running water or electricity and look to oil companies to provide basic services in return for them pumping oil from their tribal lands. But many community projects embarked on by multinationals end up failing because of corrupt contractors. Local people increasingly hire gunmen to settle disputes.

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