MEND Claims 4th Attack Against Chevron In One Week
For the fourth time in a week, the Movement for the Eman cipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed Monday it had carried out attacks against the facilities of US oil giant Chevron in Nigeria's Niger Delta region, this time blowing up a key flow station and other ancillary facilities.
In a statement emailed to the media, MEND also warned the world soccer's governing body FIFA ''to have a re-think'' on Nigeria's hosting of the FIFA Under-17 World Cup in October ''as the safety of international playe rs and visitors can not be guaranteed due to the current unrest''.
It said its ''Hurricane Piper Alpha'' hit the Abiteye flow station, operated by Chevron in Delta, at 0200hrs Monday, triggering a massive fire at the facility.
MEND also said the ''Abiteye Jacket 1 & 11 facilities belonging to Chevron Nigeria Ltd were blown up with explosives minutes after the destruction of the Abiteye flow station...Jacket 1 & 11 are currently on fire.''
The claim could not be independently verified, but if confirmed, it would be the fourth attack on Chevron facilities in Delta state within a week.
On Sunday, the region's largest militant group claimed to have blown up the ''Makaraba oil well 3 and 5 and it's trunk line and gas lifts'' in Delta state.
Earlier on Friday, MEND also said it destroyed the ''Otunana oil well 1 and its gas lift and trunk lines'', also in Delta, the epi-centre of the current military offensive against the militants, launched mid May.
Last Tuesday, MEND said its fighters fired a Rocket-Propelled Grenade at the Otunana flow station, setting the facility on fire.
Angered by the military offensive that has decimated its camps in Delta, the militants have vowed to cripple Nigeria's ability to produce and export crude oil.
On Monday, MEND said after destroying key oil facilities in Delta, it would move to other oil producing states.
In a tone indicating an increasing ethnicisation of the crisis, the group warned ''Niger Deltans'' residing in the northern part of the country, including the c a pital city of Abuja, to return home within 8 weeks ''because a major event will occur in that part of the country and reprisal attacks directed at them can not be ruled out. The same applies to the Northerners residing in the Niger Delta axis".
But the military has shrugged off such threats, describing them as 'empty'.
Since the Niger Delta crisis escalated in 2006, when MEND launched its armed campaign to press for a better deal for the impoverished oil region, the country's oil production has been slashed to ''less than half'' of its produ ction capacity of 3.2 million barrels per day, according to the Minister of State (Petroleum), Mr. Odein Ajumogobia.
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