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25 Apr 2008 11:30
The main militant group behind a string of recent attacks in Nigeria’s southern oil region said on Friday it had sabotaged another pipeline.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said its fighters hit a pipeline late on Thursday in southern Rivers State—bringing to four the number of pipelines the group has reportedly blown up in the past week.
The group said in a statement that the pipeline belongs to a Royal Dutch Shell joint venture. A Shell spokesperson had no immediate comment.
The group says it is fighting to force the federal government to give more oil industry revenue it controls to the region, which remains deeply poor despite four decades of oil production in the area.
The militants have stepped up activities as one of the group’s reputed leaders, Henry Okah, faces trial on terrorism and treason charges.
The group emerged two years ago and quickly established itself as the region’s most-effective militant organisation.
But crime and militancy are intermingled in the region, with gunmen stealing crude oil for resale or robbing banks one day and battling security forces or blowing up oil infrastructure the next.
The southern Niger Delta, where the crude is pumped in Africa’s biggest oil industry, is traversed with pipes that carry oil from wellheads via transfer stations and on to export terminals.
Since Okah’s arrest, the group has not launched any of the coordinated, military-style armed raids on staffed facilities that originally made it notable.
Shell confirmed three attacks over the past week, and announced it may not be able to meet its obligations to ship 169 000 barrels per day from Nigeria over the next few weeks. The company, one of the main operators in the country, has yet to report any production cuts from the other attacks.
Those attacks helped send crude prices to historical highs on international markets.—Sapa-AP
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