NIGERIA Showdown in the Delta 17th March 2006 Image courtesy of Panos Pictures View site Everyone is getting ready for more hostilities in the oil-producing regions as the 2007 elections approach The militants know that hostage-taking and cutting pipelines is the quickest way to draw international attention to the Niger Delta, as part of the cat and mouse game between them, government officials and oil companies. Sharp differences on tactics in the Delta are emerging between Nigeria and some Western countries whose oil companies operate there. A new wave of militant groups, better armed and better trained, mix commercial and political objectives as they pressure government and oil companies (AC Vol 47 No 2). Nine foreign hostages were taken following clashes last month focusing more attention on the crisis. An initial round of negotiations yielded the release of six on 1 March. Since then the crisis has escalated over the fate of the remaining three: two Americans and a Briton.