Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Militants attack on Shell facility: Death toll rises to 11


LAGOS, Nigeria (AP) — The militant group behind a wave of attacks on Nigeria's oil industry claimed responsibility Monday for a weekend attack that officials said killed three soldiers.

The attack "dispels the false impression being given by the Nigerian government to investors that peace has been restored after a fraudulent peace deal," the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said in a statement e-mailed to journalists.

Royal Dutch Shell PLC said the attack near one of its oil-pumping stations late Saturday or early Sunday did not affect production.

The militant group said the "minor attack" marked five months since the arrest of one of its leaders, held in Angola on gunrunning charges.

Gunmen often launch attacks in the vast area of mangrove swamps and creeks where oil is produced in Africa's biggest petroleum industry.

Some are involved in the illegal theft of oil from wells and pipelines, while others claim political motivations for deadly raids, seeking the release of jailed comrades or demanding more money for the deeply impoverished region.

Increased militant attacks on oil personnel and infrastructure since early 2006 have cut Nigeria's regular daily output of 2.5 million barrels by about one quarter.

The federal government has promised to hold talks with the militants to find a permanent end to the long-running conflict, but little progress has been made.

Government officials weren't immediately available for comment Monday.

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