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08 Feb 2009 09:31
Nigerian militants attacked a gas plant operated by Royal Dutch Shell in the Niger Delta on Saturday and warned of more attacks to come, but the army said it had repelled the raid and killed three gunmen.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), the region’s main militant group, said its fighters attacked the Utorogu gas plant in Delta state at about 2.30am GMT.
A spokesperson for Shell in Nigeria confirmed the attack and said one employee of its SPDC joint venture and two contractors had been hurt but were in a stable condition.
Mend, whose attacks in the Niger Delta have shut down more than a fifth of Nigeria’s crude oil output over the past three years, called off a five-month-old ceasefire a week ago. It had warned it would strike in Rivers state further east.
“Mend decided on this location [Utorogu] to dispel the false sense of peace and security in Delta state which the governor has been boasting about,” it said in an emailed statement.
“It is also to send a message to the oil companies that all the pipelines they have repaired in the western Delta will soon be in need of repairs again.”
During early 2006 and 2007, militant attacks on industry installations focused on the Niger Delta’s western states of Delta and Bayelsa.
A significant amount of oil production in the western delta remains shut down because of the sabotage.
More recently, the violence has centred around Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers state to the east, although much of the unrest has been criminal rather than political in nature, including frequent kidnappings for ransom and piracy.—Reuters
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