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Nigerian Military Says It is Making Headway Against Rebels

Nigerian defense officials say the military's two-week-old offensive against militants in the Niger Delta has succeeded in reducing violence in the restive region. The officials say scores of militants have been killed and dozens arrested with most of their bases destroyed. But prominent Delta politicians say the offensive will not ensure long-term security until the government provides the region jobs and infrastructure.

Lt. Col Sagir Musa is spokesman for the joint military task force charged with providing security in the Delta. He says tremendous progress have been made in pacifying the restive oil rich region. "The situation is relatively calm. So far, so good. There has not been any reported case of security breach within our areas of responsibility which is a sign of good development to the region and the nation as a whole."

He says the reduction in violence can be attributed to a multi –pronged approach by the government. "I wont attribute it to our efforts only, I think it is a combined effort, a combined responsibility that resulted to the peaceful atmosphere that everyone is enjoying in this period and we hope it will continue".

Lt. Col Musa says residents of the delta have been instrumental is giving information to the task force in its efforts to combat militant activities. "Everybody seems to be disturbed about the situation in the Niger Delta, and people are worried, disturbed and concerned. Therefore from time to time we call on the people that who ever witnessed any criminal act should call security agencies. We even volunteered dedicated telephone lines for that purpose and people are just calling to say, this is what is happening and please come to our aid."