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Nigeria Says Delta Militants May Have Been Involved in Equatorial Guinea Attack

Nigeria says it is conceivable that militants from its Niger Delta may have been behind Tuesday's attack on Equatorial Guinea's presidential palace. Foreign Minister Ojo Maduekwe says Nigeria condemns the attack.

The foreign minister says it is not clear whether militants from the Niger Delta or foreign mercenaries may have been behind the sea-borne attack. Maduekwe was also quick to distance the Nigerian government from the incident.

"So far, investigations we've been able to make and the reports we have show that even the authorities in Equatorial Guinea, themselves, are yet very certain as to the identities of those people. But, whoever they are, whether they are militants from the Niger Delta or they are foreign mercenaries from outside Africa, because we have also heard of speculation in that direction, these kinds of acts must be condemned," he said.

Security forces in oil-producing Equatorial Guinea say they repelled an assault on the presidential palace by gunmen in motor boats, in the coastal city, Malabo, about 200 kilometers from the Nigerian oil city, Port Harcourt.

Equatorial Guinea's government says it believes the attackers had come from Nigeria's restive Niger Delta. Reports from Malabo say 15 people have been arrested in the assault. Nigerian currency and armbands were said to have been found on those killed or captured by security forces.

Nigeria's main militant group - the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta - dismisses the charge that it was involved in the raid.

Equatorial Guinea, a former Spanish colony, is the third biggest oil producer in sub-Saharan Africa, after Nigeria and Angola.

Security analysts warn that shipping and oil operations in the Gulf of Guinea could come under threat, in the face of increased attacks in the waters bordering Cameroon and Equatorial Guinea.