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Nigerian militants threaten ahead of vote

LAGOS, Mar 14 – Nigerian militant group MEND has threatened simultaneous bomb blasts and attacks on oil facilities ahead of April general elections in the oil-rich west African country.

"The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will soon commence with simultaneous bomb blasts and attacks on oil installations in the Niger Delta and other strategic locations in Abuja and Lagos state of Nigeria," the group said in an e-mail statement late Sunday.

MEND said it would issue a 30-minute advance warning to residents to evacuate the targetted areas "to avert avoidable loss of lives."

The rebel group said it would follow its past practice and issue claims of responsibility after it had carried out the threatened attacks.

MEND advised the people to stay away from political gatherings or meetings of any sort ahead of the polls.

Nigeria holds a presidential election on April 9, a week after legislative polls on April 2, while governorship and state assembly polls will be on April 16.

A recent surge in violence, including bombings, political attacks and sectarian clashes, has left dozens dead in parts of the country.

"It should be recalled in our last Independence Day bomb blast that it was due to the callousness of the Nigerian security services and ignorance of the general public that led to the fatality," MEND said.

MEND claimed responsibility for the bombings in Abuja in October that left more than a dozen dead.

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The group said "anyone who chooses to ignore this warning does so at their own peril as the aftermath of these blasts will be catastrophic."

MEND, which claims to be fighting for a fair share of Nigeria\’s oil wealth for the people of the Niger Delta, blamed the government for its action.

"The government of (President) Goodluck Jonathan has shown its unwillingness to address the key issues of the Niger Delta… while deceiving the world and Nigerians that there is peace in the Niger Delta," it said.

The group vowed to hurt Western oil interests by taking a clue from developments in north Africa where popular uprisings have ousted the governments in Tunisia and Egypt and threatened that of Libya.

"Our revolution like our fellow brothers in Northern Africa will start with the crippling of the Nigerian oil industry to flush out all western oil companies operating in the Niger Delta region and the simultaneous bomb blasts never anticipated in the history of this country," it added.

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