More than 60 people died and 40 homes were destroyed when Nigerian troops in pursuit of rebel fighters attacked a community in the country’s oil-producing Niger Delta, residents said.
Members of the Nigerian military’s Joint Task Force attacked the town of Ayakoromor to the west of the southern delta near the camps used by a wanted rebel known as John Togo and his fighters, community spokesman Bernard Brialade told reporters yesterday in Warri.
“Many of our people are displaced” and are hiding in the forest, he said, while calling on the government to stop the attack. Colonel Timothy Antigha, spokesman for the Nigerian military, said no civilians were killed and people only fled the town to hide in the forest following an exchange of fire between the troops and the rebels.
The crackdown follows a recent surge of attacks by militants in the region who are demanding a greater share of the delta’s oil riches, after a period of relative calm when thousands of fighters disarmed under a government amnesty plan. Armed raids in the delta cut about 28 percent of Nigeria’s oil exports between 2006 and 2009, according to Bloomberg data.
Nigeria is Africa’s biggest oil producer and the fifth-largest source of U.S. oil imports. Royal Dutch Shell Plc, Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp., Total SA and Eni SpA run joint ventures with the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. that pump more than 90 percent of the West African nation’s oil.