[DEBATE] : (Fwd) Mend 'all out war' in Niger Delta
pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sat May 16 04:37:11 BST 2009
Nigerian militants declare 'all-out war'
LAGOS, Nigeria (CNN) -- A Nigerian militant group tangling with
government forces in the country's southern oil-producing region
declared "an all-out war" Friday after what it said was a deadly bombing
raid on civilians.
The military, meanwhile, pressed ahead against the fighters, wresting
control of a hijacked tanker and capturing a militant stronghold.
The developments are the latest in the escalating hostilities between
the government and the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta,
which demands that more of the country's oil wealth be reinvested in the
region instead of enriching those whom the militants consider corrupt
In e-mail messages to reporters, the militant group said it sank six
army gunboats, destroyed three others and captured three in the restive
Niger Delta region.
"Many soldiers have been killed, and the military has made a hasty
retreat," said the group, which is calling on "men of fighting age to
enlist" in its battle against government forces.
Also, the group said, it had captured personnel from a Nigerian warship
deployed from Liberia to help the military and was "in the process" of
torching the vessel.
"We have some casualties on our side, obviously," a militant spokesman
said. "Obviously, the battle is more serious as night comes."
Col. Rabe Abubakar, spokesman for the Nigerian military's joint task
force, confirmed exchanges of fire between government forces and
militants and reported the seizure of a militant camp, saying one
soldier was wounded and the militants "suffered a lot of casualties."
The troops are conducting cordon-and-search operations designed to nab
militants in their suspected hideouts along the southern region's creeks.
Abubakar said that the military conducted a successful "rescue" mission
of a recently hijacked oil condensate tanker, and that the captain and
the crew, some foreign, were safe.
The militant group said Nigerian troops fired stray bullets that killed
a Filipino "hostage" on the ship in Delta state, but the Nigerian
military couldn't confirm the killing of a "foreign hostage."
The violence, which has included attacks on pipelines and
hostage-taking, has limited shipment of crude oil supplies out of Nigeria.
The militant group said Friday the country's armed forces conducted
"indiscriminate aerial bombardment on the defenseless civilians in the
Gbaramatu area of Delta state." It said the strikes were punishment "for
the humiliating defeat" of the army in raids on two militant camps
"Casualties are mostly women, children and the elderly who could not get
away quickly into the bush or high sea," the militant group said.
It also repeated its "directive" for oil companies in the region to
"evacuate by the deadline of midnight today and cease oil production
until further notice."
The military made reference to the directive, saying it is responding to
attacks on troops, hijackings of vessels and threats to innocent people,
such as the "expatriates who were given ultimatum to leave the region by
the militants." It characterized the various claims by the militants as
"We are not at war with any individuals or groups in the region,"
Abubakar said. "Ours is to protect lives and property and also to rid
the region of criminals who hide under the guise of struggle agenda to
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