• Niger Delta Avengers suspects arrested amid increasing attacks
  • Assaults have cut crude oil production to almost 3-decade low

Nigeria’s army is questioning 10 people it arrested on Saturday on suspicion they’re part of the Niger Delta Avengers, a militant group that’s claimed responsibility for blowing up pipelines in the nation’s oil-producing region.

“We arrested them, we are questioning them, and they are cooperating,” army spokesman Rabe Abubakar said Monday by phone from the capital, Abuja. “This is a big step in the crackdown on those who think they can sabotage the economy of this country.”

The militant group since February has claimed attacks on facilities belonging to companies including Chevron Corp., Royal Dutch Shell Plc and Agip Oil Co., causing Nigeria’s output to drop to an almost 30-year low of about 1.4 million barrels per day. The violence has deepened the crisis facing Africa’s largest economy, which is already reeling from a slump in crude prices. Nigeria gets as much as two-thirds of its revenue and more than 90 percent of foreign income from oil.

The arrests happened after a message on the Twitter handle @NDAvengers said militants attacked the Nembe 1, 2 and 3 pipelines of the Brass-to-Bonny Truck Line. That pipeline, which was shut down on May 10 after a leak was detected, supplies crude to Royal Dutch Shell Plc’s Bonny export terminal. Although the Twitter handle is linked to the groups’s website, the post’s authenticity couldn’t be immediately confirmed by Bloomberg.

The army also “foiled a planned attack” on assets of Agip on Sunday in Bayelsa state, according to Abubakar. The suspected militants fled in two speedboats with injuries after a shootout with Nigerian soldiers. “The crackdown continues,” he said.

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