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Bloomberg: Nigerian Militant Group Threatening to Wage `Full-Scale War’

By Julie Ziegler

Feb. 21 (Bloomberg) — The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, or MEND, is preparing to widen its attack against the Nigerian government and oil companies, the group’s spokesman said.

“We understand we can never achieve a just peace without full-scale war against the Nigerian government and oil companies,” MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in an e-mail statement. “We are in preparations for this eventuality and do not contemplate any dialogue based on the Nigerian government’s idea of justice.”

MEND attacked oil installations in the Niger Delta for the past year in a campaign to cripple Africa’s biggest oil industry. Its raids forced Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s unit in Nigeria to halt output of about 500,000 barrels a day, almost a quarter of the country’s production. The group abducted more than 20 expatriates in four incidents and still holds two Italians and a Lebanese kidnapped in December.

The U.S. consulate in Lagos on Feb. 16 issued a warning to its citizens living in Nigeria that militants plan to widen their attack on expatriates and may targets businesses and other facilities frequented by foreigners in areas outside the Niger delta, the country’s oil-producing region, where previous kidnappings occurred.

MEND wants the government to cede control of the oil industry to the Niger delta states where the crude is pumped. It also demands the release of Mujahid Dokubu Asari, a militia leader jailed on charges of treason, and Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, a former governor of Bayelsa state who was impeached and arrested on money- laundering charges.

To contact the reporter on this story: Julie Ziegler in Lagos [email protected]

Last Updated: February 21, 2007 06:41 EST

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