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Niger Delta armed group claims Shell attack


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A Nigerian rebel brandishes his weapon

AFP: Niger Delta armed group claims Shell attack

Sunday 4 May 2008

LAGOS (AFP) — Niger Delta’s most prominent armed group MEND claimed responsibility Sunday for an attack on Anglo-Dutch oil group Shell’s facilities in southern Nigeria.

Saturday’s attack was “to let the oil companies know that we consider the military gunboats and soldiers guarding their facilities as mere ornaments and can confront them at will,” said a MEND statement sent by email to AFP.

The group said they had destroyed the facility in the attack, in Bayelsa state, thus hitting Shell’s output there.

Shell confirmed the attack, the latest to hit Nigeria’s largest oil operator in recent weeks, though it said the incident happened Friday night.

“A few oil delivery lines are affected and some oil has spilled into the environment,” Shell spokesman Precious Okolobo told AFP.

The the company was mobilising its workers to control the spillage.

MEND emerged in early 2006 as the leading group calling for a greater share of Nigeria’s oil revenue for the producer region. It has carried out a series of deadly attacks in recent months.

The group has also been responsible for the seizure of local and expatriate workers as hostages, though they are normally released unharmed.

Overall, violence in the Niger Delta has reduced Nigeria’s total production by a quarter in the past two years.

MEND however said on Saturday it was considering a ceasefire following an appeal from US Democratic party presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama.

“Obama is someone we respect and hold in high esteem,” it added.

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