Nigerian militant group warns of attacks on oil industry


Nairobi/Abuja: Nigeria’s main militant group Tuesday warned it would soon begin a “ferocious attack” on the West African nation’s downstream oil industry.

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Jomo Gbomo, spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said in an emailed statement that people living close to depots storing fuel should evacuate immediately to avoid “loss of lives and properties”.

“We cannot guarantee the safety of staff that happens to be in the facility during an attack,” he said. “We will also be targeting transport vehicles that convey petroleum products.”

MEND is conducting a long-running campaign of sabotage, claiming to be fighting for a more equitable distribution of wealth in the impoverished oil-producing Niger Delta.

The group’s activities slashed Nigeria’s oil output by around a quarter until an amnesty for militants in late 2009 brought about a lull in attacks.

However, MEND in 2010 began to ramp up its efforts again, claiming over a dozen lives in car-bomb attacks at a parade celebrating Nigeria’s independence in October.

Nigeria, Africa’s largest oil producer, is due to go to the polls April 9 to elect a new president, with incumbent Goodluck Jonathan favourite to win.

But a concerted campaign of sabotage could undermine Jonathan, who is from the Niger Delta and was seen as having a chance of ending the conflict when he took over from late Umaru Yar’Adua mid-2010.