Energy security is also a major problem in Nigeria, as a result of insufficient infrastructure and a large, impoverished, discontented population. Considerable political and ethnic strife plague the oil-rich Niger Delta region. There have been frequent attacks on oil and electricity infrastructure in this region. Violence, kidnappings, and oil facility seizure and sabotage disrupt Nigerian oil production in the region, sometimes causing major oil companies to suspend or close down production and lose hundreds of thousands of barrels of oil production each day. The region has been beset by attacks from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), a group of militants led by Major-General Godswill Tamuno. In early 2006 MEND blew up oil pipelines, held foreign oil workers hostage, and sabotaged major oil fields. Tamuno has stated that the group wants their land's oil wealth released from foreign interests, and all foreign oil companies and their employees out of the region.
From January to September 2004 there were an estimated 581 cases of oil pipeline vandalism in Nigeria. In December 2004 a pipeline explosion caused the death of 26 people. On May 12, 2006, 200 people were killed in Nigeria when a vandalized gasoline pipeline exploded, sending a fireball over Nigerians who were attempting to drain fuel from the pipeline into cans. (Pipeline vandalism in Nigeria is mainly caused by Nigerians who break into pipelines by drilling or other means in order to steal fuel and sell it.)
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