Nigeria’s MEND Attacks Two Gasoline Trucks, Threatens Industry

Nigeria’s Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said it attacked two gasoline-laden trucks and threatened more action against the downstream petroleum industry of Africa’s largest oil producer.

MEND, as the group is known, used military-grade timed magnetic explosives on the trucks that were queued outside a fuel depot operated by the state-owned Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. in Abaji, about 77 kilometers (48 miles) south of Abuja, the capital, spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in an e-mailed statement.

“From today, every tanker vehicle we find distributing petroleum products including propane gas has become a legitimate target in our war against injustice, corruption, despotism and oppression,” he said. MEND said drivers who continue to drive these trucks do so at their risk and warned the public to keep a safe distance from such vehicles as “they can explode anytime and anywhere.”

Royal Dutch Shell Plc of the Netherlands, Irving, Texas-based Exxon Mobil Corp., Chevron Corp. of San Ramon, California, France’s Total SA and Italy’s Eni SpA run joint ventures with the state-owned oil company also known as NNPC that pump more than 90 percent of the nation’s oil. MEND, the main rebel group in the oil-rich Niger River delta, on April 3 said it is resuming assaults on the West African nation’s oil industry after its suspected leader, Henry Okah, was imprisoned in South Africa. The campaign was codenamed “Hurricane Exodus.”

Attacks such as kidnappings and bombings of oil installations by groups including MEND cut more than 28 percent of Nigeria’s oil output between 2006 and 2009, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The violence subsided after thousands of fighters accepted a government amnesty offer in 2009 and disarmed.

MEND said the attacks will continue until Okah, his brother Charles, and others jailed or facing trial for a 2010 Independence Day bombing in Abuja are released “unconditionally.” Okah was on March 26 sentenced to 24 years in jail by a South African court on 13 counts of terrorism, including the Independence Day attack that killed 12 people. The group listed among other demands the resignation of Petroleum Minister Diezani Alison-Madueke.

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