Nigerian militant claims responsibility for dual attacks

A previously unknown Nigerian militant group has claimed responsibility for dual attacks that last week cut Nigeria's oil output by 10%.

Offshore staff

(Nigeria)- A previously unknown Nigerian militant group has claimed responsibility for dual attacks that last week cut Nigeria's oil output by 10%.

The supposed leader of the group, Brutus Etikpaden, said in a phone call to the Associated Press that his group damaged an oil pipeline and kidnapped four foreign oil workers. He demanded that two high-ranking officials from the Niger Delta, who were arrested on treason and corruption charges, be freed.

Etikpaden, speaking from an unknown location, demanded the government release militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari, who was arrested on treason charges last September after leading an armed campaign for a greater share of oil wealth for the 8 million Ijaw people who make up the majority of the Niger Delta's population. There was also a demand to release former governor Dieprieye Alamieyeseigha, who was arrested on corruption charges.

Etikpaden, passed the phone to two of the men he said his group was holding as proof. One identified himself as an American, the other as British.

Earlier, the head of Nigeria's navy, Vice Admiral Ganiyu Adekeye, told reporters that security forces had located a boat carrying the gunmen in the waterways of the Niger Delta and said an attempt would be made soon to rescue the four captives - a Bulgarian, a Brit, an American and a Honduran taken from an offshore oil platform run by Royal Dutch Shell last Wednesday.

Etikpaden warned against any rescue attempt, saying the hostages could die in the ensuing crossfire.

01/16/2006

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