The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has claimed responsibility for Thursday’s attack on a pipeline supplying crude oil to Shell’s Forcados export terminal in the oil-producing Delta state.
“A small commando unit of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) sabotaged a major pipeline feeding the Shell Forcados export terminal in Delta state of Nigeria on Thursday, November 15, 2007,” MEND said in a statement e-mailed to journalists.
“The extent of damage could not be ascertained after the operation. However, our strategy is to nibble continuously on the oil industry until they are crippled,” the region’s largest militant group said..
MEND re-stated its determination to “make the military busy enough to justify the huge budget for security in the region”, in an apparent reference to the huge budget (444 billion naira) allocated for security and the Niger Delta in the 2008 national budget)
The group, which recently called off its unilateral cease-fire to protest the arrest of one of its leaders, Henry Okah, in Angola, also warned of impending attacks on “major bridges and other non-oil sector related infrastructure around the country”.
But it noted: “We will give a fore-warning to avoid casualties as our intent is to only bring down those symbols of oppression and injustice.”
MEND, whose armed campaign for a bigger slice of oil revenues for the oil region has helped to cut Nigeria’s daily production from 2.6 million barrels per day to 2.2 million bpd, had earlier claimed responsibility for Monday’s attack on the ExxonMobil export terminal at Qua Iboe in South-east Akwa Ibom.
However, the group denied insinuations that it was responsible for the killing of 21 Cameroonian troops in Bakassi Tuesday, blaming it instead on the Nigerian military.
The Nigerian government has denied its troops were involved in the attack, saying its soldiers had not returned to the peninsula since their pull out 24 August 2006 in compliance with the ruling of the World Court confirming Cameroon’s ownership of the resource-rich region.
In its latest statement, MEND said of the attack: “We have been reliably informed by our sources inside the military of the governments’ cover-up by executing some prisoners on death row to present their riddled bodies and some weapons to the media as the ‘militants’ killed in the shootout.”