Nigeria's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has claimed responsibility for an attack at an oil facility in Niger state. Six soldiers were reportedly killed.
Chinedu Offor told VOA the incident marks the first such attack since Goodluck Jonathan assumed the presidency.
He said, “according to an official statement signed by a MEND leader, the fighting took place in Delta State in one of the creeks."
He said the fighting lasted for several hours when MEND militants were confronted by men of the joint military task force. After the shoot-out, about six soldiers had been killed and several injured. According to MEND, its forces retreated into the creeks without any injuries.
Offor explained what sparked the attack in the creek.
“According to military authorities, their job is to patrol the creeks and to prevent people from stealing oil. Authorities confronted boats carrying stolen oil and tried to intercept the boats when they came under heavy attack by MEND. Soldiers are disputing the number killed. They say while their men were injured, none were killed. MEND says the military is hiding their true casualty figures,” he said.
Offor said this is the first time the militants have attacked since Goodluck Jonathan -- who also hails from the Niger Delta – assumed the presidency.
He said, “President Jonathan is not in the country. He is in South Africa to watch the opening ceremony of the World Cup, but his officials in Nigeria say they are trying to accelerate development of increased stipends for the militants and well as trying to get them jobs to keep them off of the streets.”
Offor said the attack goes against the assumption that the militants have been pacified by the government’s amnesty deal.