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Nigeria arrests 3 men with explosive material

REUTERS

Tue Jul 7, 2009 9:27pm BST

By Austin Ekeinde  

 PORT HARCOURT, Nigeria, July 7 (Reuters) – Nigeria’s military said on Tuesday it arrested three men suspected to be planning an attack near oil facilities in the Niger Delta. 

Colonel Rabe Abubakar, spokesman for the military task force, said the men were arrested early Tuesday while carrying bomb-making chemicals at Forcados in Delta state. 

Royal Dutch Shell (RDSa.L) operates a major network of pipelines, oilfields and a major crude oil export terminal in Forcados. 

“The (military) has arrested three suspected militants believed to belong to a gang responsible for attacks on oil facilities in recent weeks,” Abubakar said. 

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the country’s most prominent militant group, attacked two well clusters operated by Shell in Forcados last week.

The insecurity in the region forced Shell last month to extend its force majeure on Forcados oil shipments to cover all of July.

MEND has sabotaged pipelines, bombed oil facilities and kidnapped foreign workers following the military’s biggest offensive in the region for years in late May.

Shell, U.S. oil major Chevron (CVX.N) and Italy’s Agip (ENI.MI) have cut output by about 273,000 barrels per day in the last six weeks because of the latest campaign of militant violence.

The disruption to supplies has provided some limited support to global oil prices.

President Umaru Yar’Adua said last week he would offer a 60-day amnesty to gunmen to try to end the unrest which has prevented Nigeria from pumping above two-thirds of its installed capacity since early 2006, costing it billions of dollars in lost revenue.

Some militant leaders have indicated they would be willing to accept the offer, provided they can negotiate the terms. But MEND, a loose network of various armed factions, has doubted the government’s sincerity.

(Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Matthew Jones) 

© Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved.

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