Militants abduct seven oil workers in Nigeria

Nigeria`s main militant group MEND says it abducted seven oil workers at an offshore oil facility owned by ExxonMobil corporation and threatened to step up violence in the region which is vital to US oil supplies.

Last Updated: Nov 16, 2010, 23:59 PM IST

Abuja: Nigeria`s main militant group MEND
says it abducted seven oil workers at an offshore oil facility
owned by ExxonMobil corporation and threatened to step up
violence in the region which is vital to US oil supplies.

"The attack commenced at approximately 20.40hrs
Nigerian time and terminated at approximately 22. 37hrs
Nigerian time, after our fighters detonated explosives they
had earlier rigged to this facility, causing considerable
damage," Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
(MEND) said in a mailed statement.

The attack was to prevent the Nigerian government
from attributing a damage the militants cause at the facility
to industrial accident.

On Friday, Nigeria`s military carried out a raid on
a militant camp in the restive oil producing region arresting
two suspected rebels.

But MEND accused them of `indiscriminate bombing and
strafing of communities in the Niger Delta and locations in
the creeks and swamps suspected of accommodating militia
camps`.

The group said the onslaught by Nigeria’s military
almost led to the death of seven expatriate oil workers in its
custody.

`The Nigerian government should be mindful of the
fact that these activities are endangering the lives of these
hostages who otherwise would come to no harm in our custody.

No amount of military activities will secure the
release of these hostages. They will be released at our time,`
MEND said adding that it would launch a major operation that
will simultaneously affect oil facilities across the Niger
Delta.

The oil rich region of Nigeria is notorious for
unrestricted attacks by rebels who often kidnap oil workers
and at present seven foreigners from the United States,
France, Canada and Indonesia are being held hostage by a group
called Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
(MEND).

Last week, militants had used explosives to attack
the homestead of, Mr.Timi Alaibe an adviser to the OPEC member
country`s President Goodluck Jonathan.

During a presidential pardon last year, some
militants operating in the area exchanged their arms for some
monetary compensation promising to stop their activities.

Since 2006, militants in the Niger Delta region have
attacked oil installations, kidnapped oil workers and fought
government troops requesting for the control of the resources
in the area.

Their attack reduced oil production considerably
making the country which is the highest oil supplier in Africa
to trail behind Angola but Nigeria regained its place after
the amnesty programme.

PTI