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Militants Attack Nigerian Oil Facility

A militant group in the Niger Delta Wednesday staged a bloody raid on an oil facility seizing five South Korean oil workers and killing four soldiers.

The ethnic Ijaw militant group, Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has claimed responsibility for Wednesdays attack.

The attackers destroyed an oil rig, a naval houseboat, a military gunship and killed five soldiers before kidnapping five South Korean oil workers.

The group's key demand is the release of a jailed militia leader, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari.

Some ethnic Ijaw leaders have denounced the latest attack, which came at a time the government has launched an initiative to address long-standing grievances in the region.

Oboko Bello is the president of the Federated Ijaw Council, one of the Niger Delta groups involved in the government program.

"I'm not denouncing our struggle, our struggle is in place, but there is an attempt….whether they want to solve the problem or not, they are saying they want to solve the problem," he said. "Give them a chance, when they fail to meet the demand then we will say, look at the demand and look at the offer. The offer cannot be commensurate with what we have placed before you. The whole world would be watching."

The attack came hours after the jailed militia leader, Dokubo-Asari, who is on trial for treason was denied bail by a Nigerian court.

Bello says the judicial process should be allowed to determine Dokubo-Asari's fate.

"When the thing is an issue of law court, I don't want to conduct myself prejudicial to the process," he added. "A lot of these things are now issues of the law court. There should be an element of legitimacy in what we are doing. There should be a rule of law."

Since February, MEND has carried out a number of attacks on the oil industry in the delta, forcing the closure of a quarter of Nigeria's oil output. The group insists on the release of Dukubo-Asari as one of several conditions for ending the violence.

On Friday, a group of unidentified militants who were demanding jobs and development projects kidnapped eight foreign oil workers from an oil platform off Nigeria's southeastern coast. They were released on Sunday.