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Nigerian Military, Militants Exchange Fire in Niger Delta


A Nigerian attack helicopter has exchanged gunfire with heavily-armed militants in the oil-rich Niger Delta.

The Nigerian military said Friday the gunship fired on a barge stealing oil from a pipeline. The helicopter drew heavy return fire from militants guarding the boat. No injuries were reported.

Thursday, an oil well fire forced Royal Dutch Shell to close a flow station, cutting production by almost 38,000 barrels a day.

The cause of the fire is unknown, but it came one day after a local militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta threatened to renew attacks against oil installations in the region.

The group said the Nigerian military used a Shell airstrip to launch a helicopter attack a day earlier. The military said it attacked barges used by oil smugglers, while the militants claimed the attack targeted ethnic Ijaw communities.

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