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Nigeria's foreign oil workers threatened

LAGOS (Reuter) - Foreigners working for multinational oil firms in Nigeria said yesterday they were taking seriously threats by striking oil unions and pro-democracy groups against expatriate strike-breakers.

'We are aware that the unions are making an issue of expatriates working. Under present circumstances, it would be stupid for anyone to say he was not concerned,' said one European working with a major oil producer in Lagos. 'We are keeping a close eye on the situation.'

Another expatriate oil worker said that although there was some concern, it was not serious enough to warrant oil companies taking major precautionary steps. 'If we panic, we play straight into their hands,' he said.

The striking oil unions, Nupeng and Pengassan, have warned oil firms that action would be taken if expatriate staff did not stop work to back the strike to force an end to military rule in Nigeria and gain better management of the oil industry.

Police yesterday fired tear- gas in Lagos and the south- west city of Ibadan to disperse rioting youths opposed to military rule and demanding the release of the detained leader, Moshood Abiola.