The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, the main militant group in Nigeria’s southern oil region, said it attacked a police marine checkpoint yesterday on Nembe Creek in the southern Bayelsa state.
Four policemen were killed in the attack in the Niger River delta, Eguavoen Emokpai, a police spokesman in Yenagoa, the state capital, said today by phone.
The kidnappers of two Russian crew members of a vessel attacked two days ago have offered to hand the men over to the militant group, which has been in contact with their captors, Jomo Gbomo, spokesman for the group also known as MEND, said today in an e-mailed statement. “We are considering this offer.”
Attacks by armed groups in the Niger delta, home to Nigeria’s oil industry, cut the nation’s crude output by 28 percent from 2006 to 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Disruptions eased after thousands of fighters dropped their weapons and accepted a government amnesty in 2009. MEND refuses to disarm, saying the government hasn’t met its demands for local control of the delta’s oil.
MEND will “launch rockets at the bridge” of any oil industry vessel that carries out drills to prevent its fighters getting on board and will set such ships ablaze “when we eventually board,” Gbomo said.
The militant group on Feb. 6 said it is planning more attacks on oil installations in the delta after it damaged a pipeline operated by a unit of Italy’s Eni SpA (ENI) in an attack on Feb. 4. The group said 200,000 barrels a day of oil was affected. Rome-based Eni said it lost around 4,000 barrels per day of “equity production” from the incident.
Nigeria is Africa’s top oil producer and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. crude imports. Royal Dutch Shell Plc (RDSA), Exxon Mobil Corp. (XOM), Chevron Corp. (CVX), Total SA (FP) and Eni run joint ventures with the state oil company Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. that pump more than 90 percent of the country’s crude.
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