/ 6 December 2010

Militants claim pipeline bombing in Niger Delta

Militants Claim Pipeline Bombing In Niger Delta

A militant faction in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta said on Monday it had ruptured an oil pipeline in Delta state, close to where the security forces launched a major offensive last week.

The Niger Delta Liberation Force (NDLF) said it had struck what it described as a “major pipeline” belonging to state-run oil firm the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) close to the Batan flow station late on Sunday night.

NNPC declined to comment and there was no independent confirmation of an attack.

The NDLF said its action was a response to what it said was the killing of innocent civilians during the military offensive against three of its camps.

“We urge President Goodluck Jonathan and the leaders of the Niger Delta to call the army chief of staff to moderate [the] military onslaught,” the group said in an emailed statement.

A military taskforce (JTF) comprising the army, navy and air force began raiding camps believed to belong to John Togo, the suspected leader of the NDLF, close to the Ayakoromo and Okrika communities in Delta last Wednesday.

Fighters loyal to Togo hid in buildings in Ayakoromo to escape the raids before engaging in a gun battle with the security forces, witnesses said. Several rows of houses were fire bombed during the battle.

Some civilians were wounded as they fled in dug-out canoes and several were killed, according to rights groups.

Some activists said scores had died but the Ijaw Youth Council civil rights group, which inspected Ayakoromo after the raids, said nine civilians had died in the cross-fire. — Reuters