UC Berkeley Professor Shot in Hand

Amanda Ott is an assistant news editor. Contact her at [email protected]

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A UC Berkeley geography professor was shot in the hand yesterday while in southern Nigeria for an awards ceremony.

Michael Watts, whose research has covered the political economy and ecology of oil, was shot in the left hand when gunmen stormed the National Point newspaper office where he was visiting, according to an Associated Press report.

He was taken with a guard, who was also shot, to the hospital, the AP report states, where his injury was treated.

Watts wrote in an e-mail to the geography department that he was not seriously injured in the attack. He could not be reached for comment.

Watts told the AP that he believed the gunmen followed him after he made a trip to the bank.

“I’m feeling a little rattled, like everyone in the office,” Watts told the AP. “Thank God no one was seriously injured. ... It could have been much worse.”

The National Point newspaper office is located in the town of Port Harcort in the Rivers State of Nigeria.

Edward Miguel, a UC Berkeley associate professor of economics, said in an e-mail that this incident is a reminder that fieldwork is not always safe.

“It is a horrific crime, the nightmare for all of us who do fieldwork in politically unstable countries,” he said.

Colleagues said Watts had noticed the increased violence in the area throughout his trip.

“We’ve been e-mailing back and forth about administrative stuff and he said it was pretty violent over there,” said Martha Saavedra, associate director of UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies.

Watts is currently the director of UC Berkeley’s Center for African Studies.

Katlyn Carter of The Daily Californian contributed to this report.


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