Militant group MEND to continue ceasefire in Nigeria

Nigeria's main oil militant group has pledged to continue its unilateral ceasefire in the Niger Delta despite accusing the military of launching air attacks on its allies' camps.

Uchenna Izundu
International Editor

LONDON, Sept. 24 -- Nigeria's main oil militant group has pledged to continue its unilateral ceasefire in the Niger Delta despite accusing the military of launching air attacks on its allies' camps.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) carried out several attacks on oil platforms, flow stations, gas plants, and pipelines last week that have shut in over 150,000 b/d of production, according to Nigerian media reports. The campaign, which MEND has dubbed Hurricane Barbarossa, was retaliation after Nigerian troops raided its camps.

MEND's attacks have severely affected Royal Dutch Shell PLC's operations and it has warned that it may not be able to meet its Nigerian export requirements.

Shell said it was "deeply concerned" about casualties and civilians and the damage to its facilities. It has called for urgent dialogue to resolve the crisis.

MEND's ceasefire started on Sept. 21. The military has declared that it will increase security around oil infrastructure in its crackdown against rebel groups which are seeking greater control of the area's resources and a bigger allocation of its wealth.

MEND said it would not be drawn by military tactics into jeopardizing the peace process and would continue observing its ceasefire.

Later this week, Nigerian President Umura Yar'Adua plans to appoint ministers at cabinet level to deal with the crisis in the Niger Delta under a newly created ministry, but there is controversy over which ethnicities should be represented at a central government level.

Contact Uchenna Izundu at uchennai@pennwell.com.

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