April 29, 2006

Nigerian group says it mounted bombing in oil area

By Estelle Shirbon

ABUJA (Reuters) - Nigerian militants said on Saturday they
had detonated a car bomb near an oil refinery in the city of
Warri in the southern oil-producing Niger Delta.

No information was immediately available on whether there
were any casualties or damage. Delta state officials said there
had been a blast but had no further details. The militants have
provided accurate statements in the past.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta
(MEND), whose attacks have cut Nigerian oil exports by a
quarter, said the bombing was a warning to all people working
in the oil industry and particularly to China.

Earlier this week, Chinese President Hu Jintao signed oil
deals with Nigeria during a state visit.

"We wish to warn the Chinese government and its oil
companies to steer well clear of the Niger Delta ... The
Chinese government by investing in stolen crude (oil) places
its citizens in our line of fire," said MEND.

Nigeria gave China four oil exploration licences in return
for a commitment to invest $4 billion in refining and power
generation. High world oil prices have stoked fierce
competition between Asia and the West over access to new


MEND, which says it has waged a campaign of attacks and
kidnappings because the Nigerian government has neglected the
delta's dominant Ijaw tribe, said it used a mobile phone to
detonate 30 kg (66 lb) of dynamite in the bombing.

"Our operatives in Delta state in the Niger Delta planted
and detonated one car bomb amidst petroleum product bridging
tankers located close to the refinery in Warri," it said.

MEND says impoverished villages in remote creeks have no
electricity, clean water or health services but have to play
host to a multi-billion dollar industry that damages the

The Ijaw tribe has led a sporadic violent campaign against
the government and oil companies over the last five years.

Last week, Ijaw leaders said direct talks with President
Olusegun Obasanjo would help end attacks.

The leaders, who shunned recent multi-party talks called by
Obasanjo to address the delta issue, are drawing up an agenda
for such a meeting.

Obasanjo offered this month to build a $1.8 billion highway
through the vast region and generate 20,000 new jobs. MEND
rejected the offer and responded with a car bomb that killed
two people at an army barracks in the delta.

(Editing by Ralph Gowling; +234 9 413 8410;
[email protected]))