Nigeria Oil Militants Claim Pipeline Attack, Police Denies

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Nigerian oil militants claimed to have blown up a pipeline belonging to the Nigerian National Petroleum Corp. in what would be their first attack since they expressed a willingness to engage in talks with the government. Police said the explosion was an accident and the militants weren’t involved.

“At 4:00am @NDAvengers blow up NNPC pipeline in Oruk Anam Local Government Area in Akwa Ibom,” Niger Delta Avengers militant group said Thursday in a tweet from an unverified account.

NNPC spokesman Garba Deen Muhammad did not answer calls or text messages seeking a confirmation.

The attack would be a setback after the group signaled for the first time on June 13 that it would talk with the government of Africa’s second-largest crude producer if certain conditions were met. The militants, whose assaults on oil infrastructure have sent output plunging to its lowest in 27 years, have targeted Nigeria’s main source of foreign exchange, deepening the country’s economic crisis.

The pipeline in Oruk Anam “was not vandalized by the Niger Delta Avengers” Akwa Ibom state police chief Murtala Mani said. It was hit by an “accidental” explosion following a leak and repair works are ongoing, he said.

Nigerian State Minister for Petroleum Resources Emmanuel Kachikwu said on June 13 talks with the NDA were currently taking place and had begun “to yield fruits.”