|File photo shows fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of Niger Delta (MEND) as they prepare for an operation in the Niger Delta.|
Nigerian militants said they destroyed a strategic facility owned by US oil group Chevron hours after they claimed an attack on Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell.
“The strategic Okan manifold which controls about 80 percent of Chevron Nigeria Limited off shore crude oil to its BOP Crude Loading Platform was blown up at about 2045 hours on Sunday, June 5, 2009,” the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said in a statement.
Chevron was not immediately available to confirm the attack, coming after a similar attack on Shell’s facility in the volatile Niger delta.
MEND said it carried out the attack to teach Nigeria and its special military task force (JTF) in the region a lesson.
“As long as the Nigerian government and military JTF has chosen to carry out kidnappings and arson against innocent communities and individuals, Moses will fight for them,” it said.
The group demanded the release of a traditional ruler it accused the military of abducting.
“We are demanding that the abducted monarch who is still being held illegally by the JTF be released immediately or charged to a competent court of law,” it added.
Monday’s attack came hours after MEND destroyed “the Shell well head at Cawthorn Channel 1″ which connects with the Bonny loading terminal in Rivers state.
MEND on Saturday vowed to thwart a 10-billion-dollar trans-Saharan gas pipeline project linking vast reserves in Nigeria to Europe.
On Friday, three African countries — Algeria, Niger and Nigeria — signed a deal in Abuja to build the more than 4,000-kilometre (2,500-mile) pipeline conveying gas destined for the European market from the Niger Delta in Nigeria, via Niger and Algeria.
No date was announced for the start of construction, but the first delivery of gas is scheduled in 2015.
MEND urged oil firms still operating in the restive Niger Delta to leave immediately, threatening to carry out new attacks.
MEND, which came to prominence in December 2005, has been responsible for a series of attacks on major oil companies, including Shell, Chevron and Italian group Agip.
The Niger Delta has since 2006 been rocked by violence by armed groups who say they are fighting for a greater share of the region’s oil wealth for the local population.
The unrest has reduced Nigeria’s exports to 1.8 million barrels per day from 2.6 million three and a half years ago.