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Security risks from militants loom large in West Africa

Increasing attacks on oil and gas firms in West Africa have forced governments and firms to take precautions

The rise of Islamist militancy in the north of the region has unsettled foreign oil company staff in West Africa, but the potential for renewed political violence and continued oil theft in the Niger Delta, together with an escalation in oil-related piracy, may prove to be bigger risks to the sector. Total's decision in January to pull its expatriate staff out of the Nigerian capital Abuja highlights growing concerns that local groups could mount a campaign against foreign firms. In Total's case, the worries were heightened by the company's French origins, which could make it a target following France's intervention against Islamist rebels in Mali. The company's move followed the kidnapping

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