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Nigerian Authorities Seize Weapons From Militant Base in Niger Delta


Nigerian officials say security forces have seized a large weapons cache from an abandoned militant base in the Niger Delta region.

Nigerian Senate spokesman Ayogu Eze said Tuesday that the militants had stored enough weapons and ammunition to "raise an army." Eze said he and other lawmakers who visited the camp were shocked by what they saw.

Nigerian officials say the base, near the port town of Okrika in southern Nigeria's Rivers state, belonged to fugitive militant leader Ateke Tom. They say security forces also found an illegal oil pipeline running through the camp to a private jetty on the coast.

Nigerian officials accused Tom of using the pipeline to steal oil from a nearby refinery. In an interview with the BBC, Tom denied laying the pipeline.

The exact quantity of weapons seized at the militant camp has not been officially announced. It also is not clear if the illegal pipeline discovered in the camp runs all the way to the nearby refinery in the town of Port Harcourt.

Senate spokesman Eze says he fears that militants in the region will next try to build private refineries to, as he puts it, "suck our collective resources" for personal use.

Many armed groups in the Niger Delta say they are fighting for a greater share of the region's oil wealth.

Eze says the people of the Niger Delta have a case for their regions to receive more attention and development. But he says this does not justify hostage-taking and disrupting Nigeria's oil exports.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.