Heavy fighting in Nigeria's delta enters third day

Nigerian militants attacked a Royal Dutch Shell oil flow station on Monday in a third day of heavy fighting with security forces in the Niger Delta region.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta declared an “oil war” on Sunday and warned all oil workers to evacuate the delta immediately, threatening to further disrupt production in the world’s eighth largest oil exporter.

“Mend reiterates its previous warnings to all oil workers in the entire Niger Delta region to evacuate from oil facilities and halt production with immediate effect or they will have themselves to blame,” Mend said in an emailed statement.

Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, spokesperson for the military task force in Rivers state, said militants in about 10 speedboat attacked the oil flow station at Alakiri in Rivers state, which was on fire after Monday’s attack.

“The attack lasted over an hour. Dynamite and bombs were massively detonated by the miscreants,” Musa said. “The situation is being closely monitored and is under control.”

It was not clear whether any production was effected.
Shell was not immediately available for comment.

Musa said militants incurred heavy losses in the fighting and no soldiers were killed. He would not specify the number of casualties.

Mend, whose campaign of violence has cut a fifth of the Opec member’s oil output, said at least 22 soldiers and seven others were killed since Saturday.

It was not possible to independently verify claims from either side.

The Niger Delta is a vast network of narrow creeks and remote villages, and initial reports of fighting are often confused. The military and the militants regularly accuse each other of propaganda when clashes take place.

Mend has also attacked a Chevron oil platform and Shell-operated pipelines and gas plant in the last three days.

Chevron has confirmed the attack on its oil platform, while Shell is investigating the reports of sabotage on its facilities.

A security source said two Chevron employees were killed and three soldiers wounded in clashes on Sunday.

The deteriorating security situation in the delta, home to Nigeria’s oil sector, is considered to be the biggest hindrance on economic growth in Africa’s most populous country. - Reuters

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