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Militants in Nigeria put oil installation on fire

Nigeria's main militant group said on Wednesday that it attacked a Chevron flow station in the oil-producing Niger Delta and set it ablaze as part of a new offensive against oil companies.

world Updated: Jun 10, 2009 12:37 IST

Nigeria's main militant group said on Wednesday that it attacked a Chevron flow station in the oil-producing Niger Delta and set it ablaze as part of a new offensive against oil companies.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said its fighters attacked the Chevron Otunana flow station in Delta state late on Tuesday and left it "engulfed in fire".

"Code-named 'Hurricane Piper Alpha,' the objective is to smoke out war criminals of the northern Nigerian armed forces who have taken refuge in oil installations and give them instant jungle justice," the group said in an e-mailed statement.

There was no immediate confirmation of the attack.

MEND called for "all-out war" on Nigerian forces in the Niger Delta last month after its camps were attacked.

Attacks on oil facilities and workers have cut oil production in Nigeria, one of the world's largest crude oil exporters, by around 20 percent since 2006.

MEND and other groups operating in the Niger Delta said they are fighting for a larger share of the wealth from the oil-rich region for local residents, who complain the oil industry has ruined their agriculture and fishing livelihoods.

However, the government said the rebels are criminal gangs intent on stealing oil or making money through extortion.

MEND on Tuesday also promised to release Matthew Maguire, a British hostage it has been holding since late last year, within 24 hours.

However, they failed to release him last month after making a similar pledge.