The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta claimed responsibility for an attack on Exxon Mobil Corp.s Nigerian unit in Akwa Ibom state.
The Nigerian government has not spoken with MEND about “injustice” in the Niger delta, Jomo Gbomo, spokesman for the rebel group, said in an e-mail today. “In the coming weeks, MEND will launch a major operation that will simultaneously affect oil facilities across the Niger delta.”
The southern Niger River delta, home to Nigeria’s oil and gas industry, has seen a new surge of violence since a government amnesty in 2009 led to the disarming of thousands of fighters and a period of relative quiet. Seven foreign workers were abducted in an attack on Afren Plc’s offshore Okoro field on Nov. 7, about a week after an Eni SpA pipeline was sabotaged in a separate attack. Attacks by armed groups in the delta region cut Nigeria’s oil production by more than 28 percent from 2006 to 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.
Seven local employees were abducted in yesterday’s operation, Gbomo said.
“They were taken to prevent the Nigerian government from attributing the damage to this facility to an industrial accident,” he said. “No amount of military activities will secure the release of these hostages. They will be released at our time.”
Government and security agencies have been informed and “appropriate” response measures are under way, Exxon Mobil said in an e-mailed statement yesterday.
To contact the reporter on this story: Renee Bonorchis in Johannesburg at firstname.lastname@example.org