Nigerian militants threatens to end just announced cease-fire 2009-07-15 21:31:18   Print

    LAGOS, July 15 (Xinhua) -- Nigeria's major militant group in the oil rich Niger Delta region the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) threatened on Wednesday that it would immediately call off their just announced cease-fire if the government steps up its forces in the region.

    "Barely 12 hours into our cease-fire, the military Joint Task Force has dispatched seven gun boats with heavily armed troops from Warri and are headed towards one of our camps located around the Delta/Ondo state border," the group spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in an e-mail statement reaching here.

    "If this information from a very reliable source within the JTF happens to be true, the cease-fire will be called off with immediate effect," the statement said.

    "We are monitoring the armada and sincerely hope that the planned attack will be converted to a war exercise," it said.

    Earlier in the day, the group announced a two-month cease-fire, which came two days after the release of its jailed leader Henry Okah.

    The militant group said in a statement "Effective from 0000 hours (2300 GMT) on Wednesday, July 15, 2009, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) will be observing a temporary cease-fire for a 60 day period."

    The militant leader had been on trial for gun-running and treason after being arrested in Angola in 2007 and his release has been one of the key demands from the group to accept the amnesty offered by the Nigerian government.

    Last month, the Nigerian government announced an amnesty for the militants in a bid to end serious unrest in the restive oil-rich Niger Delta. The amnesty offers unconditional pardon to all persons involved directly or indirectly in militant activities in the Delta region.

    The militant group has mainly been carrying out attacks against foreign oil companies in the southeast Nigeria's Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states.

    Armed attacks in the oil rich region, which accounts for almost all of Nigeria's oil output, have cut more than 20 percent of the country's crude exports since 2006.

    The group has recently launched several attacks on international oil facilities in southern Nigeria as part of its campaign to get what it calls a fairer distribution of the region's oil wealth to local people.

Editor: Fang Yang
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