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Nigerian Military Repels Armed Gang in Oil Region

  • Gilbert da Costa

The Nigerian army says suspected militants in speedboats attacked troops guarding the country's main crude oil and liquified natural gas export terminal. The attack was the first since armed groups announced a cease-fire last month. Gilbert da Costa has more from Abuja for VOA.

Bonny Island, in the southern Niger Delta, is home to a liquified natural gas terminal whose exports account for 10 percent of world supply and to Nigeria's biggest crude-oil export facility.

This makes the heavily-guarded facility a prime target for militants out to sabotage the oil industry.

The army says it recovered weapons and ammunition from the gunmen who had come in six boats to attack navy vessels and military personnel patrolling the export facility.

The attack was the first major strike by militants in the restive oil-rich region since the country's most prominent armed group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, declared a ceasefire last month.

Daniel Ebahor, of the non-governmental group Niger Delta Peace Foundation, says the government's inability to take full advantage of the truce is responsible for the resurgence of violence.

"I do not know what the government is doing. Government is not helping matters about the Niger Delta issue and there is no clear picture of the government's ability to restore peace in the region," he said.

There has been violent unrest in the Niger Delta region, where militants have kidnapped more than 250 local and foreign workers and damaged several oil and gas pipelines and other facilities.

Armed groups in the region are calling for a more equitable distribution of the country's oil wealth.

Nigeria is the world's eighth-largest oil exporter, but militant raids have cut shipments by a fifth.