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Nigerian Militants Arrested

Militants launched a series of attacks on oil facilities last week

Militants launched a series of attacks on oil facilities last week. A raid by Nigerian police has led to the arrest of nearly two hundred suspected militants in the Niger Delta. The move is seen as a tough counter-offensive by the government after an escalation of violence in this resource-rich region.

Some suspects are accused of recruiting youths to target oil installations around Port Harcourt.

The military commander in Rivers State was cited as saying his men had found almost all militant camps there, and he would mount a campaign to destroy them.

Following a similar military raid earlier this month, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) declared "war" on the Delta's oil industry. More than one hundred people are thought to have been killed and Nigeria's oil production has diminished by roughly 20%.

Despite MEND's declaration of a temporary ceasefire on Sunday, the military commander in Rivers State was reported as saying the military knew the location of all militant camps there, and that a campaign to destroy them would be mounted. On Thursday morning MEND accused the army of launching air attacks on its allies' camps.

They stepped up attacks on oil installations, before the MEND declared a unilateral ceasefire.

On Saturday oil giant Shell was forced to declare a "force majeure", which frees it from contractual obligations on crude oil shipments from its Niger Delta facilities.

Groups like Mend claim say they are fighting for more control over oil wealth in the impoverished Niger Delta, but they are accused of making money from criminal rackets and trade in stolen oil.

Author: Jo Amey