Assailants attacked a natural gas production plant in Nigeria's restive south on Saturday, but military forces repelled the onslaught and killed three gunmen, a government spokesman said.
The region's main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, claimed responsibility for the attack, launched one week after it called off its months-long cease-fire. But the group denied any deaths among its fighters. The battle early Wednesday battle prevented the attackers from entering the production facility in Delta State, military spokesman Col Rabe Abubakar said. He said three attackers were killed and one soldier was wounded.
It was the latest fighting in nearly three years of violence in southern Niger Delta that has slashed output from Africa's biggest producer. Last week, the militants called off a unilateral cease-fire after a clash with the military.
The militants say they are battling to force the federal government to send more oil-industry funds to the southern region, which remains deeply poor despite its great natural bounty. The government says the militants are engaging in the lucrative overseas trade in crude oil illegally tapped from Nigeria's vast pipeline network.