- Title: NIGERIA: Nigerian military say rebels under control
- Date: 17th September 2008
- Summary: (BN08) PORT HARCOURT, NIGERIA (FILE) (REUTERS) MILITARY PERSONNEL CARRIER SOLDIERS CONDUCTING A SEARCH FOR REBELS
- Embargoed: 2nd October 2008 13:00
- Location: Nigeria
- Country: Nigeria
- Topics: Defence / Military
- Reuters ID: LVA54UUDAM1ODM929VIXB0CABVJT
- Story Text: Nigeria military spokesman dismisses MEND's claim of attack on Shell oil installation as propaganda.
Nigerian militants attacked two oil installations in the Niger Delta in the heaviest fighting there in two years, militants and security sources said on Tuesday (September 16).
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), responsible for attacks that have cut a fifth of the OPEC member's output since early 2006, attacked a Royal Dutch Shell oil pipeline and Chevron-operated oilfield late on Monday (September 15) and early Tuesday.
But a military spokesman dismissed MEND's claims, saying there were no security breaches.
Lieutenant Colonel Sagir Musa, spokesman for the military task force in Rivers state, said there were no successful militant attacks in the state since early Monday. He said a stray bullet was responsible for blowing up the Shell installation and not the militants. He added that is was mere propaganda by the militants.
"The situation is under control," said Colonel Musa Sagir, adding,"There was really intense fighting and exchange of fire and in the process of cross fire, I think a bullet hit one of the sensitive and inflammable part of the flow station and there was explosion and it caught fire."
Vigilante groups in the delta are determined to continue to sabotage the oil fields.
"If they refuse to bring back my properties, to do our demands, then it means the government is not ready for peace so I would do anything I like," said Ateke Tom, leader of the Niger Delta vigilante group.
MEND said it had destroyed a major crude oil pipeline belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company with high explosives. The pipeline was at Degema in Rivers state, it said.
The oil market, focusing on the impact of the credit crisis on the global economy, has largely ignored the escalation in violence in the world's eighth largest oil exporter. Prices on Tuesday traded at a seven-month low near $92 a barrel.
A security source said the militant group also attacked Chevron's Idama oilfield, but were repelled by security forces. The source said Shell and Chevron had evacuated offshore personnel, but both companies were unavailable for comment.
Some security sources in the oil industry estimate more than 100 people may have been killed in the clashes, which have spread to at least seven villages in Rivers state.
The military says militants have incurred "heavy losses," but have declined to elaborate. MEND says at least 29 people, most of them soldiers, have died.
Militants have bombed pipelines, platforms, gas plants and oilfields, shutting up to 115,000 barrels per day of oil production in the last four days, government officials said.
The violence has prompted Shell to reduce the number of employees at some of its Nigerian oilfields. An industry source said nearly 100 staff have been evacuated.
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