- A fierce clash between government forces and Nigeria's main militant group in the oil rich southern region has cost the country the hard earned unilateral truce declared in September last year.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said today that it is ending the ceasefire it declared in September after a spade of deadly attacks against military and oil industry installations.
MEND said in an e-mail that its decision was incited by an attack earlier today by government forces on a camp run by one of its members. It said it would retaliate with attacks against Nigeria's oil industry in an operation it called "Hurricane Obama."
Responding to MEND reports, the Nigerian military said they were fired on first. "The firing was from a distance in the surrounding creeks and our own troops responded," military spokesman Lt Col Sagir Musa said, indicating that one soldier had been wounded in the attack.
The militants declared a cessation of hostilities in late September after attacks on troops and the infrastructure that carries oil from wells to export terminals in the southern Niger Delta, where Nigeria's petroleum is found.
That upsurge of violence slashed crude output in Nigeria's daily crude production below two million barrels a day, about 20 per cent under Nigeria's estimated capacity.
MEND, emerged about three years ago, claiming to be fighting for the fair share of oil proceeds to locals in the Niger Delta. The militants say their campaign of sabotage against the oil industry is meant to force the federal government to release more funds to the southern crude-producing states.
However, the government said militants are gangsters who are using political agitation to mask their criminal activities.
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