Militants Attack Nigerian Naval Vessel Guarding Oil Fields

Nov 1, 2007 11:25am

Nigerian rebels launched a deadly attack against a Nigerian Naval ship protecting some of the country’s most well-known oil fields, including Shell. The militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, also known as MEND, took credit for the attack late Tuesday night, according to a spokesperson for the group. According to media reports in the region, one naval officer was killed and at least six more were wounded during the raid.  MEND, considered the most powerful rebel group in the volatile oil-rich Niger Delta region, has been responsible for kidnapping scores of foreign oil workers and launching attacks against oil facilities in Nigeria over the last few years. THE BLOTTER RECOMMENDS Photos What’s Leading to Terror in the Niger Delta? Blotter Nigerian Terror Threat: $6 a Gallon Gasoline Blotter Militant Group Takes a Summer Break Blotter Four U.S. Hostages Freed in Nigeria Click Here for Full Blotter Coverage The group’s spokesperson, who goes by the name of Jomo, told ABC News in an e-mail that group is "fighting for the control of oil revenue by indegenes of the niger delta who have had relatively no benefits from the exploitation of our mineral resources by the nigerian government and oil companies over the last fifty years." Jomo described the latest attack as "proof to the oil majors and the Nigerian government that the presence of the Nigerian military in the Niger Delta can not deter an attack…"  Calling the Nigerian Navy ship a "sitting duck," Jomo warned that the use of the Nigerian Navy to guard oil fields won’t deter the group from carrying out further attacks "nor provide protection to oil facilities when we decide to attack them," the e-mail states. "It is only the presence of justice that can." This attack comes after MEND and other militant groups publicly ended a five-month cease-fire with the Nigerian government, claiming the new Nigerian government, elected in May, and oil companies have not done their part in sharing revenues with the impoverished people living in the region. Reinhert Winzenreid, a spokesperson for Royal Dutch Shell, told the Blotter on ABCNews.com that the company is continuing to work with Nigerian government security officials. But the Navy ship "was not particularly destined to protect the Shell oil fields alone," said Winzenreid. "The attack actually took place far away from our installations." Nevertheless, Shell and other oil companies are expressing concern over the renewal of violence in the region. On Tuesday, six foreign oil workers from Agip, an Italian oil company, held hostage for more than a week were released, bringing the number of oil workers kidnapped in the volatile region this year to more than 100.  Nigeria is the fifth largest supplier of crude oil to the United States and largest exporter of oil in Africa. Since 2006, oil companies and the government have estimated that oil production in Nigeria has been cut by more than 20 percent and that the country has lost millions of dollars in oil revenue because of militant attacks. Image above is a file photo.
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