Three soldiers, 8 militants die in Niger Delta gun battle

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A gun duel between suspected militants and soldiers in Nigeria’s restive Niger Delta region at the weekend left three navy soldiers and 8 militants dead and several others injured, military sources said.

The clash occurred in the oil rich Bayelsa state, a stronghold of the militants, late Saturday night, following an attack by militants on a houseboat stationed at Shell’s Tora Manifold, from where crude oil is pumped to the Bonny Export Terminal. Those injured, said to be officials of Shell, and the deceased soldiers were evacuated from the scene in helicopters operated by Shell.Violence has recently escalated in the oil region, as the main militant group Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has vowed to cripple Nigeria’s oil export if concrete steps were not taken to redress the neglect of the region.

MEND has however offered an immediate ceasefire if one of its leaders, Henry Okah, now in detention in Angola where he was arrested for alleged gun-running last year, is freed.

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