In the spirit of Christmas, the largest militant group in Nigeria’s oil producing Niger Delta region has declared a 24-hour ceasefire, during which all attacks and kidnappings will stop.
”Effective 12 midnight, December 25, 2007, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will observe a 24-hour ceasefire in the spirit of Christmas,” MEND said in a statement e-mailed to journalists this weekend.
”Cessation of hostilities and kidnapping of oil expatriates can be guaranteed during this time frame,” added the statement, signed by MEND’s spokesman Jomo Gbomo.
Militants in the restive region have recently stepped up their attacks on oil pipelines, jetties and other facilities, forcing the federal government to put soldiers deployed to the region on red alert.
Several militants groups in the region have also opted out of the peace pact they signed with the federal government, after stumbling on a report urging more military action against the militants by soldiers of the Joint Task Force protecting oil facilities and personnel.
On Friday, President Umaru Yar’Adua called a meeting of security chiefs to deliberate on ways to stem the rising violence and kidnappings, which have seen the aged fathers of two prominent government officials in oil-rich Bayelsa state kidnapped in the past weeks.