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Nigerian militant group threatens attack that will create ’economic tsunami’ in oil industry

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Posted: January 10, 2008 3:51 p.m.
Updated: January 25, 2008 5:00 a.m.
    ABUJA, Nigeria — Nigeria’s main militant group said Thursday it fired on six oil industry ships and threatened an attack that will cause an ‘‘economic tsunami’’ in the world’s oil market.
    The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, whose attacks have crippled oil production in Africa’s top exporter, said it fired at the ships Tuesday on the Bonny River, but provided no details.
    The group, known as MEND, also warned in an e-mail sent to journalists that ‘‘an attack on the Nigeria oil industry that will cause an economic tsunami in the world oil markets is imminent.’’
    Militant groups in Nigeria’s oil-producing states say they are fighting for a greater share of the country’s oil wealth. Although the Niger Delta produces billions of dollars in crude oil a year, its people live on an average of less than $1 a day.
    MEND said a few days earlier it was receiving training from U.S. and European mercenaries on ambush techniques and the use of anti-aircraft surface-to-air missiles.
    The group said Thursday that, for now, ‘‘our tactics of attack on these enemies of peace and freedom will be limited to remote explosive devices.’’
    But it warned Niger Delta residents living under the flight paths of military helicopters ‘‘to be vigilant’’ because the aircraft could be shot down.
    ‘‘We will not spare helicopters from oil companies as they have been used for military surveillance and logistics support,’’ MEND said.
    Militant tactics have included kidnapping expatriate oil workers and attacks on oil installations and government buildings. Copycats have jumped into the fray led by criminal gangs seeking ransoms.
    Nigeria is Africa’s leading oil producer and the fifth-biggest source of U.S. oil imports. Militant attacks have cut production by 20 percent, helping keep oil prices high.

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