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Gunmen attacked a southern Nigerian oil export terminal belonging to a subsidiary of Italy's Eni SpA early Thursday, taking three Italians and a Lebanese hostage and killing another person, officials said.

Bayelsa state police Commissioner Hafiz Ringim confirmed the attack just before dawn on the Agip oil export station, which exports some 200,000 barrels of oil daily from the town of Brass.

Italy's Foreign Ministry said another Lebanese worker was wounded in the firefight.

The identity of the dead man was not immediately clear, although it appeared he was a bystander rather than one of the attackers or an Agip employee, Ringim said.

Agip officials said oil exports were not affected.

Since the beginning of 2006, militant groups have attacked pipelines and taken workers hostage in violence that has cut crude output by about 25 percent in Africa's largest oil producer.

Most oil workers kidnapped over the past year have been safely released, but one British hostage was killed last month during a rescue attempt and scores of Nigerians have been killed in militant operations.


Police get first guns since end of civil war

The Liberian government issued guns to a unit of its police force Thursday, making them the first officers to carry arms since the end of the West African country's 14-year civil war three years ago.

The move is part of an effort to fight crime in the capital, Monrovia, ahead of Christmas, police Chief Beatrice Munnah Sieh said. She declined to say how many officers received guns.

"The essence of this operation is to let the citizens know that the government is ready to protect them in case of anything during the (holiday) season," she said.

The weapons were supplied by Nigeria.


Annan faults officials for Darfur violence

United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan accused the Sudanese government on Thursday of failing to protect citizens in Darfur from killing, rape and destruction of their villages and warned that in the future it may be held accountable collectively and individually.

He said the international community has offered to help, "but the government has refused to accept that help."

Annan announced an agreement in principle with Sudanese officials Nov. 16 to conduct a "hybrid mission" with the African Union force in Darfur, which is ill-equipped and has been unable to stop the escalating violence. But Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir later reiterated his rejection of U.N. troops in Darfur.

The agreement was aimed at solving the widening Darfur crisis, where more than 200,000 people have been killed and 2.5-million displaced by three years of fighting between rebels and government forces.