Saturday, May 16, 2009

Niger Delta fighting escalates

The long-simmering conflict in Nigeria's Niger Delta region has flared, with Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) guerrillas having pulled off two hijackings of oil barges and then the Nigerian military going on the counter-offensive. 10 crew members of the M/V Spirit have been rescued, although reports are a total of 22 people were taken hostage and 1 may have died from gunfire.

Nigerian gunboats and helicopter gunships were also in action, attacking the MEND "Camp 5" base near Warri and leading to the camp's "total destruction".

MEND was at its strongest last year when oil prices made "bunkering" (stealing industrial quantities of crude petroleum) highly profitable. With the Nigerian military now committed to action after MEND's declaration of "All-out War" last week, the future of the armed insurrection is clearly in doubt.

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