The most prominent militant group in oil-rich southern Nigeria, MEND, says it has declared an "oil war", threatening all international industry vessels that approach the region.
The most prominent militant group in oil-rich southern Nigeria on Sunday said it had declared an "oil war" and threatened all international industry vessels that approach the region.
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in an email to the media it has code-named its operation Hurricane Barbarossa.
"About 0100 Hrs, today ... Hurricane Barbarossa commenced with heavily armed fighters in hundreds of war boats filing out from different MEND bases across the Niger Delta in solidarity to carry out destructive and deadly attacks on the oil industry in Rivers state," the group said.
The "war" was in response to what it says were unprovoked aerial and marine attacks by the army on one of its positions.
"The operation will continue until the government of Nigeria appreciates that the solution to peace in the Niger Delta is justice, respect and dialogue," MEND said.
The group warned all vessels to stay on the high seas and not to come into port.
"All international oil and gas loading vessels entering the region are warned to drop anchor in the high sea or divert elsewhere until further notice. Failure to comply is taking a foolhardy risk of attack and destruction of the vessel."
It also reiterated the warning it issued Saturday to oil companies telling them to evacuate their staff from field facilities.
"Again, we are asking that oil companies evacuate their staff from their field facilities because the brief is not to capture hostages but to bring these structures to the ground," MEND said.
The kidnapping of oil workers and sabotage of oil facilities have reduced Nigerian crude production by about a quarter over the past two years. The West African producer currently exports around two million barrels of oil daily.
Unrest in the Niger delta has also cost Nigeria its position as Africa's biggest oil producer. In April it was overtaken by Angola, according to the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries.
Date created : 2008-09-14