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Nigeria rebel leader surrenders

world Updated: Oct 05, 2009 01:21 IST
Niger Delta

Militant fighters loyal to a Nigerian rebel leader in the oil-producing Niger Delta began emerging from the creeks on Saturday to surrender their weapons and accept an amnesty.

Dozens of speedboats full of fighters carrying machineguns and rocket launchers travelled from Dutch Island, a camp that is home to militant leader Ateke Tom, to the oil hub of Port Harcourt.

Tom, whose fighters have been behind many of the attacks on the oil industry in the eastern Niger Delta in recent years, on Thursday accepted a presidential amnesty.

"When I saw (President Umaru Yar'Adua), I trust him very well," Tom told reporters in his camp, 40 minutes by speedboat from Port Harcourt, before setting off for a disarmament ceremony.

"I am going to disarm every (one) of my boys," he said.

Residents of Waterfront, one of the areas of Port Harcourt hardest hit by recent fighting, came out of their houses and cheered as the militants arrived.