US Oil Executive
Murdered In Nigeria

LA Times Wire Services
PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria - A gunman on a motorcycle shot dead a U.S. executive in Nigeria's oil heartland Wednesday, authorities said.
Militants who have attacked the oil industry for five months said they had no hand in the killing of the executive, who worked for Texas oil services company Baker Hughes Inc. A diplomat and oil industry source said it was more likely the slaying was linked to a work-related dispute.
Baker Hughes spokesman Gene Shiels confirmed that the victim, Ricky Wiginton, 51, worked as an operations manager for a division of the company. His hometown was not immediately available. The U.S. Embassy said it was investigating the report.
The executive was being chauffeured through a violent area of the city when he was shot in the chest, an industry source said. The gunman was apparently working in coordination with a car that impeded escape.
In an e-mail, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta denied involvement. MEND has bombed oil facilities, kidnapped foreign workers and recently begun using car bombs.
Its attacks have led multinational firms to cut Nigerian oil exports by one-quarter.
The industry source said Baker Hughes had pulled its staff out of Port Harcourt as a precaution.
A company spokesman would not comment.
Port Harcourt is the largest city in the Niger River Delta, and several oil companies have large offices here. The city suffers from sporadic outbreaks of gang violence, and several deadly armed robberies have occurred recently.
Much of the violence stems from deep-seated resentment among inhabitants of the region, many of whom feel cheated out of the riches being pumped from their traditional lands. nigeria11may11,1,1110997.story?coll=la-news-a_section



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