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Between 30 and 50 killed in Nigerian pipeline blast
Updated: 2004-09-18 00:19

Between 30 and 50 people were killed in an explosion at a fuel pipeline on the outskirts of the Nigerian commercial capital Lagos.

"Between 30 and 50 people were killed while siphoning fuel from a damaged pipeline," Lagos police spokesman Emmanuel Ighodalo told AFP, giving a new toll from Thursday's explosion at Imore village, a northern suburb of the city.

People visit a vandalised petrol pipeline that exploded in eastern Nigeria. Between 30 and 50 people were killed in an explosion at a fuel pipeline on the outskirts of Lagos. [AFP]

Witnesses had earlier said at least 12 people died in the blast.

Ighodalo said no arrests were made. "Nobody was arrested because the victims were also the offenders. And you cannot arrest dead people."

Earlier witness Yinka Adamolekun told AFP at least 12 people killed when a vandalised portion of the pipeline was ignited by a spark from a generator used to power a boat allegedly used by the victims while stealing fuel.

"I saw them being loaded into vans and taken to a morgue," he told AFP.

Last week, the state police commissioner, Israel Ajao, paraded eight suspected fuel thieves arrested in the area.

More than 1,000 villagers suspected of stealing fuel in Jesse, in southern Delta State, were killed in 1998 following a fuel pipeline explosion.

Similar incidents have been recorded in several other parts of the country since then.

Hundreds of fuel and oil thieves have been arrested or interrogated in the past four years as the government launched a crackdown on them.

Some of them are being prosecuted for economic sabotage and stealing.

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