Nigeria Militants Plan Big Attack on Oil Facility

LONDON, Jan 8, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)

Armed groups are stockpiling weapons and supplies in preparation for a major attack on an oil facility in Nigeria, Reuters reported Tuesday, citing militant and security sources.

"There could be a massive attack on an oil installation in Rivers state," Reuters quotes Jonjon Oyeinfie as saying. Oyeinfie is a former leader of ethnic rights group Ijaw Youth Council and a member of a committee representing militants in talks with the government on a negotiated settlement to the Niger Delta crisis.

Another militant source says Niger Delta Vigilante Movement leader Ateke Tom is stockpiling large quantities of arms, food and water in preparation for an offensive, Reuters reported.

Tom's group claimed responsibility for an attack on police stations, a hotel and a nightclub last month in Port Harcourt, during which 13 people were killed. The group's strongholds in the area surrounding Port Harcourt had come under military bombardment in days prior to the attack.

Oyeinfie blamed the military for stoking tensions in the creeks around Rivers state capital Port Harcourt, and said armed groups had lost faith in the government after repeated army raids, Reuters said.

Security consultants working for oil multinationals said they had also picked up talk of an attack on the industry in Rivers state within days, the agency said.

Rivers state is home to the Nigeria's largest oil and gas export complex on Bonny Island as well as hundreds of oilfields and pipelines.

Since January 2006, several militants groups in the region have kidnapped more than 250 local and foreign oil workers and sabotaged oil and gas pipelines and other facilities. The groups say they want a greater share of the oil wealth produced in the region.

LONDON, Jan 8, 2008 (Dow Jones Newswires)