Oil militants vow fresh attacks

February 3, 2010 12:00 am

, LAGOS, Feb 3 – Nigeria\’s main rebel group vowed Tuesday to carry out fresh attacks on oil facilities "in the weeks to come" in the key Niger Delta region.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it "re-states its warning to oil companies regarding their staff who they are putting in harm\’s way by their continued presence on our soil."

"MEND hereby promises to re-visit the Trans-Ramos pipeline which we attacked in June last year after it has been repaired, as well as other oil facilities around the Niger Delta in the weeks to come," it said in an e-mailed statement.

The group on Saturday called off a truce it declared on October 25 and threatened an "all-out onslaught".

The announcement was a fresh blow for authorities in Africa\’s oil and gas giant amid uncertainty over the health of the country\’s president, in hospital in Saudi Arabia for more than two months.

MEND had declared the unilateral ceasefire to allow "meaningful" dialogue with authorities.

But it said at the weekend that it was "clear" the government had no intention of considering its demand that control of the Niger Delta and its resources "be reverted to the rightful owners, the people of the Niger Delta".

Previous MEND attacks on Nigeria\’s oil industry have contributed to havoc with oil prices on the world market.

At the peak of the attacks, the violence slashed Nigeria\’s crude production by about a million barrels a day and saw Angola overtake the west African giant as Africa\’s top oil producer

Nigeria is the world\’s eighth largest crude exporter.

A key demand from MEND is that local communities benefit from the region\’s oil wealth.

Oil is Nigeria\’s economic mainstay, raking in some 95 percent of export earnings and accounting for about 85 percent of budget requirements for the OPEC member country.


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