5th February, 2012
YENAGOA, Nigeria Feb 5 (Reuters) – A Nigerian militant group based in the oil-producing Niger Delta said on Sunday it had attacked an oil pipeline owned by Italian firm Eni where witnesses said there was a fire late on Saturday.
The statement sent to media said it was from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), formerly Nigeria’s main militant threat, responsible for years of attacks on the oil industry until a 2009 amnesty.
Eni was not immediately available for comment but witnesses said there was a fire on the company’s Nembe-Brass pipeline.
The amnesty led thousands of militants to drop arms, join training programmes and collect stipends. Security sources believe the remaining gangs in the Niger Delta do not have the capacity to do the damage seen in the past, which at its height cut out more than a third of the OPEC-member’s output.
Several false threats purporting to be from MEND have been sent in the past and most of the recent damage caused to Nigeria’s oil infrastructure has been from gangs stealing oil, rather than militant strikes.
“On Saturday the 4th of February at 1930hrs, fighters of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (M.E.N.D) attacked and destroyed the Agip (ENI) trunk line at Brass in Bayelsa State in the Niger Delta region of Nigeria,” the email said.
“This relatively insignificant attack is a reminder of our presence in the creeks of the Niger Delta and a sign of things to come.”
Two leaders of the group.the Okah bothers are facing trial for terrorism in two courts. Charles Okah is being tried in Abuja and Henry Okah, in Johannesburg.