Nigerian oil militants call unilateral ceasefire

June 23rd, 2008 - 1:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Nairobi, June 23 (DPA) A militant group responsible for attacks on oil facilities that have disrupted oil production in Nigeria will observe a unilateral ceasefire from Tuesday midnight, the group said in a statement. Jomo Gbomo, a spokesman for the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said in an emailed statement late Sunday that his group was giving peace and dialogue another chance at “the request of Niger Delta elders.”

The move is a dramatic turnaround after two high-profile attacks in recent days.

Royal Dutch Shell last Thursday was forced to shut down its offshore Bonga field after a militant attack, which was followed up over the weekend by an assault on a Chevron pipeline.

MEND denied responsibility for the Chevron attack.

Militant attacks have cut production in Nigeria by almost a quarter since the beginning of the year, contributing to sky-rocketing global oil prices.

The closing of the Bonga field, which can produce 225,000 barrels per day, alone cut the West African nation’s capacity by around 10 percent.

Militants in the western Niger Delta regularly attack production facilities and abduct oil workers as they press for a bigger say in oil exploitation in the area.

Nigeria is Africa’s second-largest oil producer, but in spite of its oil wealth, the majority of Nigerians live on a pittance.

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