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AP Worldstream: Militants in Nigeria's oil region claim fresh clashes killed three soldiers

DULUE MBACHU
Mar 25, 2006
Militants behind a spate of attacks in Nigeria's southern oil-rich delta said Saturday they killed three soldiers in fresh clashes near a key natural gas plant run by Royal Dutch Shell.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, responsible for several bombings and hostage-takings this year that have cut Nigeria's oil exports by more than 20 percent, said its fighters crossed a military patrol boat on Thursday.
“We confirm that three soldiers were killed in this encounter,” the group said in an e-mail statement that gave no details of the clash. The group said it captured the boat and some quantities of arms and ammunition.
Army spokesman Col. Mohammed Yusuf said three soldiers went missing around Soku on Thursday but could not give any further details. Shell said there was no impact on the gas plant.
The movement claims to be fighting for the interests of the impoverished Niger Delta region that accounts for most of Nigeria's oil.
The militants have held two Americans and one Briton since Feb. 18, when the militants raided a barge owned by Houston-based oil services company Willbros Group Inc. and seized nine hostages. They released six of them after 12 days. Hostage-takings occur frequently in the volatile delta region. Most are released unharmed.
Nigeria normally exports about 2.5 million barrels of oil daily.
Copyright 2006 Associated Press

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