Nigerian armed group attacks oil pipeline, ending truce
December 21, 2009
The Associated Foreign Press reports that Nigeria''s main rebel group has claimed responsibility for a recent attack on an oil pipeline operated by Shell and Chevron, ending a two-month truce, and accusing the government of using the president''s ill-health to stall peace talks. The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed the attack in an e-mail statement. The pipeline is located in Abonemma, some 50 kilometers west of Port Harcourt, the country''s oil hub. MEND had previously announced an indefinite ceasefire in response to a government amnesty program for militants in the restive oil region to lay down their arms. The group also named a team to negotiate with the government on how to end the unrest. MEND said it would now review the ceasefire within 30 days, blaming the government for suspending ongoing peace talks because of the failing health of President Umaru Yar''Adua, who has bee hospitalized since late November in Saudi Arabia. MEND also vowed to continue "its fight for the restoration of the land and rights of the people of the Niger Delta which has been stolen for 50 years." The Niger Delta has for more than three years been a haven for armed militants claiming to be fighting for a greater share of oil wealth for their communities. At the peak of the unrest Nigeria, the world''s eighth largest exporter of crude, saw its output slashed by a third. Following the amnesty deal Nigeria''s oil output has risen to around 1.98 million barrels per day, according to latest report from the International Energy Agency.