- Category: National Security
- Published on Friday, 13 April 2012 15:46
- Written by Admin
- Hits: 485
Gunmen attacked a pipeline early Friday morning belonging to Eni SpA in Nigeria's oil-rich and restive southern delta, the Italian oil firm said, as the main militant group in the region claimed responsibility for the assault.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility for the attack in a email sent to journalists Friday morning. The militant group claimed it destroyed one wellhead and a manifold on the pipeline.
The statement said the militants would issue a more-detailed communique about the attack later Friday.
The militant group, known by the acronym MEND, had largely gone quiet in recent months after the 2010 arrest in Johannesburg of Henry Okah, an alleged gun runner and leader of the loose organization. However, the group has begun claiming new attacks in Bayelsa state as of recent weeks targeting Eni pipelines, as well as on the military units guarding the region.
Foreign oil companies like Eni have pumped oil out of the delta for more than 50 years. Despite the billions of dollars flowing into Nigeria's government, many in the delta remain desperately poor, living in polluted waters without access to proper medical care, an education or work.
In 2006, militants from groups like MEND started a wave of attacks targeting foreign oil companies, including bombing their pipelines, kidnapping their workers and fighting with security forces. That violence ebbed in 2009 with a government-sponsored amnesty program promising ex-fighters monthly payments and job training. However, few in the delta have seen the promised benefits and scattered kidnappings and attacks continue.
MEND itself, once a powerful, media-friendly militant group in the region, has seen its influence wane since the amnesty. Jonathan, the first president in Nigeria to come from the delta, has soothed some nerves in the region. Meanwhile, officials have told The Associated Press that a former delta militant leader is linked to a private security company that signed a $103 million deal with the government to patrol the West African nation's waterways against piracy. (AP)