Sunday, 7 April 2013

MEND ambush police boat in Nigeria oil region

Nigerian militants have ambushed a police boat in the oil-producing Niger Delta region, leaving 12 officers missing and presumed dead, security officials said on Sunday.
The ambush came days after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main delta militant group prior to a 2009 amnesty, threatened to restart attacks in retaliation for the jailing of leader Henry Okah by a South African court.

Police Commissioner Kingsley Omire said the ambush was carried out by militants once loyal to Kile Selky Torughedi, who headed MEND's southern wing, but denied there was a link to the threat by the group, whose attacks cut oil production in Nigeria by around half before the amnesty.

He instead blamed a dispute between the gunmen and the government over their amnesty payments - underscoring the fragility of the peace that has been achieved in the delta by paying off thousands of militants to silence their guns.

The government is keen to wind the amnesty payments down but fears that as soon as it does the militancy will restart. Omire said the boat carrying 50 police officials was heading to a funeral late on Friday when it developed engine problems in one of the winding creeks of the swampy delta region that is home to Africa's biggest oil industry. "The craft developed engine problem was now isolated and the officers became soft target for some hoodlums, who we have confirmed were part of a militant group that was supposed to be enjoying an amnesty," Omire said.

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