The main militant group in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta says it
attacked a military helicopter near a major rebel camp on Thursday.
From the Nigerian capital, Abuja, Gilbert da Costa reports the group is
warning that it will resume hostilities if it is provoked by the
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
says a military helicopter gunship, which flew close to a major rebel
camp in Bayelsa state, came under fire from what it called "heavy
anti-aircraft guns." The rebels claim the aircraft was severely damaged
and may not have made it back to base.
A military spokesman in
the region, Lieutenant Colonel Rabe Abubakar, told VOA a military
helicopter gunship was in the area on reconnaissance. Colonel Abubakar
said the military acted on intelligence that some criminal gangs were
stealing crude oil, and some militants were planning to attack
facilities owned by Royal Dutch Shell.
"Actually there was a
recce [reconnaissance] by our helicopter," he said. "The recce was
based on the information that we received in respect of illegal
international oil bunkering [theft]. Another reason was the threat by
some militants to bomb Shell facilities. Based on these tip-offs, we
had to go on a recce."
The U.S. oil company Chevron says it will
not be able to meet its delivery obligations in exports from its
Escravos oil terminal in the Niger Delta until the end of the year,
after a militant attack on a key pipeline.
The commander of a
special military unit said government troops in the Niger Delta
repelled an attack Thursday by gunmen close to the Escravos terminal.
by armed groups in the Niger Delta, Nigeria's main oil-producing
region, have cut more than 20 percent of the country's crude exports
MEND declared war on the oil industry in September
in response to what it said was an unprovoked attack by the army on one
of its positions. The group announced a ceasefire last month.