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Financial Times: Stay away from delta, Nigerian rebels tell China


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Stay away from delta, Nigerian rebels tell ChinaBy Dino Mahtani in Lagos
Published: April 30 2006 21:04 | Last updated: April 30 2006 21:04

nigeria oilNigerian militants have warned Chinese companies to “stay well clear” of the oil producing Niger delta or risk facing attack, while simultaneously claiming responsibility for a car bomb attack.

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The bomb, which was detonated near a refinery in a city in the western delta late on Saturday, destroyed at least five petrol tankers and sent debris flying 100 metres away. No casualties were reported.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend), which has cut Nigeria’s oil output by about a fifth this year, said the bomb was a final warning to oil companies before it resumed attacks on oil facilities.

The threat to Chinese companies and employees comes just days after China agreed a $4bn (€3.16bn, £2.19bn) infrastructure investment deal with the world’s eighth largest oil exporter in return for preferential rights on four blocks in a coming oil acreage auction.

The Chinese embassy in Nigeria had no immediate comment on the threat.

Mend, which accuses the Nigerian government and oil companies of cheating the delta’s people out of their oil wealth, first emerged late last year.

It attacked facilities belonging to Royal Dutch Shell, Nigeria’s largest oil producer, in operations that coincided with taking hostages. Since February, the group has kept a low profile while political negotiations between delta leaders and the central government took place.

But earlier this month Mend claimed responsibility for another car bomb that detonated inside a military barracks in the eastern delta, killing two civilians. It said the attack was to prove the weakness of the Nigerian military.

The militant group, whose well-armed units patrol the creeks of the delta in open-topped boats equipped with powerful outboard motors, has said it has been preparing for a fresh onslaught against oil companies in the eastern delta.

So far Mend’s attacks have concentrated on the western delta, where the group is thought to have its headquarters.

Exxon, Nigeria’s second largest producer, last week tightened security measures around its 420,000 barrel-a-day Qua Iboe export terminal in the eastern delta following intelligence related to a militant attack.

Mend has already badly damaged one of Shell’s export terminals in the western delta

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