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AP Worldstream: 5 soldiers killed in Nigeria’s oil-rich south; Shell convoy attacked

By: DAN UDOH, AP Worldstream
Published: Oct 03, 2006

Dozens of militants sank two military patrol boats in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern delta in an attack that killed five soldiers and left nine others missing, an army spokesman said.

Maj. Sagir Musa said 15 soldiers were on a routine boat patrol in a delta outlet in Nigeria’s Rivers state when 70 militants attacked on Monday, sinking two military boats. One of the soldiers managed to escape and raise the alarm, he said.

A convoy of workers for Royal Dutch Shell PLC was attacked while being accompanied by a military escort in the same area, said Bisi Ojediran, a company spokesman in Lagos. It was not immediately clear if the Shell convoy was attacked in the same incident.

Ojediran said he could not confirm any casualties, or if anyone was taken captive. Oil company convoys usually travel with a military escort in the dangerous delta region.

A group that says it represents a coalition of militant groups claimed responsibility for attacking the Nigerian soldiers. An e-mail from the Joint Revolutionary Council said the attack was in revenge for attacks on local communities and demanded the release of imprisoned militant leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari.

However, an e-mail from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, one of the groups the coalition claims to represent, said it was not involved in Monday’s violence.

Militant attacks and kidnappings have cut oil production in Africa’s largest crude producer by over a quarter so far this year. Groups have sabotaged pipelines and oil installations in what they say are protests against the international oil companies and the federal government, which controls the petroleum revenue and divvies it up among Nigeria’s 36 states.

Despite the Niger delta’s massive energy resources, the vast majority of the region’s people are mired in extreme poverty and many say kidnappings and attacks that grab international attention are some of the only tools available to them.

Nigeria is the fifth-largest supplier of crude oil to the United States.

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