Nigeria's most powerful armed group says it destroyed another pipeline Friday, the latest in its campaign of sabotage against the oil industry.  There was no immediate official confirmation of the attack. 

A statement by the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it attacked a major pipeline that delivers crude to Italian oil group's Agip's Brass export terminal.

Fighting has flared up in recent weeks, with the militants and the security forces issuing claims and counter claims.

On Wednesday, militants announced they destroyed a pipeline owned by Royal Dutch Shell in the same area.

The Nigerian government is expected to announce details of an amnesty program for militants in the Niger Delta next week. The program is considered a crucial element of the government's efforts to bring stability to the heartland of Africa's biggest oil and gas industry.

A resident of the Niger Delta city of Warri, Edward Oforome, a lawyer, told VOA the current government military offensive in the region is the largest anti-militant operation in years and is bound to raise questions about the government's commitment to a peaceful resolution of the crisis.

"Amnesty is a good initiative if there is honesty in it," he said. "The reason for saying so is that we read in papers [newspapers] that they will grant amnesty but the following day you hear of them fighting. One will think that if amnesty is intended to be given, that will be enough to bring about the laying down of arms."

The violence in the delta is taking its toll on the Nigerian economy. Petroleum Minister of State Odein Ajumogobia says Nigeria's oil output has fallen to less than half capacity because of militant attacks in the main producing region in the past three years.

Thousands of people, most of them impoverished villagers, have been forced to flee for their lives since the army launched its offensive in May.