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Militants kill Nigerian troops in oil delta

Posted by By Austin Ekeinde on 2006/10/03 | Views: 674 |

Militants kill Nigerian troops in oil delta

Militants in speed boats attacked Nigerian soldiers escorting a convoy supplying oilfields operated by Royal Dutch Shell on Monday, ending a month of relative quiet in the Niger Delta.

Militants in speed boats attacked Nigerian soldiers escorting a convoy supplying oilfields operated by Royal Dutch Shell on Monday, ending a month of relative quiet in the Niger Delta.

An oil industry source said the militants killed five of the 15 soldiers protecting the convoy, which was ferrying fuel and other supplies to oilfields in the Cawthorne Channel area of Rivers State in the eastern delta. An army spokesman confirmed soldiers were killed but he did not know the exact number.

"About 17 militants attacked our soldiers. The militants came in several boats. They succeeded in sinking two of our boats with soldiers inside," said army spokesman Sagir Musa, adding that several injured soldiers had been brought to Port Harcourt, the state capital.

A Shell source said it was unlikely the attack had any impact on oil output because it occurred in a river far from any facilities. Shell already has 495,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day shut down at fields it operates in Africa's top oil producer, mostly because of militant attacks.

A self-styled Joint Revolutionary Council, which says it represents three militant groups, claimed responsibility for the attack and demanded the release of Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, a jailed militant leader.

"The purpose of this celebration of ability and capability was to prove to the armed forces of the Nigerian state that we can take them on anywhere, anytime and anyhow," the Joint Revolutionary Council said in an email to journalists.

However, a spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), one of the three groups the council said it represented, wrote in an email to Reuters that the MEND had nothing to do with Monday's attack.


A sixth of Nigeria's oil production capacity has been shut down since February following a wave of attacks by MEND.

The outages in the world's eighth biggest exporter of crude have contributed to several spikes in world oil prices.

MEND's last attack on an oil and gas facility was a bloody raid, also in the Cawthorne Channel, in June. It had threatened more attacks in August but those did not materialize.

The Niger Delta was relatively quiet in September after a spate of kidnappings for ransom in August. A total of 18 oil workers were abducted that month in eight separate incidents. One of the hostages was shot dead by troops during a botched attempt to release him, while all the others have been freed.

Violence in the delta is rooted in poverty, corruption and lawlessness. Most inhabitants of the wetlands region, which is almost the size of England, have seen few benefits from five decades of oil extraction that has damaged their environment.

Their resentment toward the oil industry breeds militancy, but other factors such as the struggle for control of a lucrative oil smuggling business and the lure of ransoms also fuel violence.

The Nigerian government has responded to this year's wave of attacks with promises of investment in the delta, but President Olusegun Obasanjo also said in August that the armed forces should meet militants "force for force."

Activists in the region say the promises of development are too little, too late, while the president's order has further angered the unemployed, disgruntled youths who feed numerous armed groups across the region.

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