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Nigerian Pipeline Attacked With Dynamite; Casualties Reported

Early reports say at least eight people, mostly children, died in southern Nigeria in an explosion that hit a pipeline carrying oil. Angry youth are being blamed for the attack.

The dynamite attack late Monday by assailants on a pipeline operated by Royal Dutch Shell caused an oil spill and fires in neighboring villages in the area of Andoni in Rivers State.

"Before the people could know what was happening, they had already set the pipeline there on dynamite and that thing exploded and caught fire," said a local government official, Monwan Etete, who described the scene to VOA. "So far, we went to the place and we saw that several communities were burned down, razed completely and people started running away for their lives."

Shell closed two oil fields, reducing daily output by 170,000 barrels, or seven percent of Nigeria's production. There was no word when the production will be restored.

Journalist Aminu Bello Sahabi says local officials and oil companies suspect angry youths were behind the attack.

"They say they are suspecting the boys, those boys, they call themselves the Niger Delta Youth. Most of the time, their grievances are between them and the oil companies there," he said. "Maybe they have some demands that the oil companies are supposed to have done for them, but are not done, so instead of going for a dialogue, they went on [a] rampage."

Many local communities in the Niger Delta feel they bear the brunt of the pollution and environmental degradation of oil production, while not getting their share of the wealth oil production generates.

Nigeria is the world's eighth largest oil exporter.