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Prime Minister Gordon Bean intervenes: Nigerian militants end ceasefire

Nigerian militants end ceasefire

Nigeria’s main militant group has said it is abandoning a two-week-old ceasefire because of Britain’s pledge to back the government in the country’s oil region.

A top leader with the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said the group would resume attacks in Nigeria’s oil-rich river delta region from midnight on Saturday.

The leader said they were calling off the ceasefire because of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s promise at the G8 summit in Japan to support the Nigerian government in its efforts to end violence in the oil-producing region.

Mr Brown’s comments amounted to “military support to the illegal government of Umaru Yar’Adua”, the leader of the group, known as Mend, said in an email.

“To demonstrate our seriousness to the UK support of an injustice, Mend will be calling off its unilateral ceasefire,” the email said.

Mend is behind two years of crippling attacks on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure that have sliced the country’s normal daily oil output by a quarter and contributed to the worldwide surge in the price of crude.

The group said last month it would boycott a government peace summit, but halted attacks on June 24 until further notice. Mend said then it was heeding calls by elders to give peace efforts another try.

The militants previously declared a ceasefire in 2007 after President Umaru Yar’Adua’s May 29 inauguration, saying they were willing to join a peace process.

But they relaunched their campaign of pipeline bombings and other oil-industry attacks after one of their leaders, Henry Okah, was arrested on arms dealing charges in September in Angola. They have said they are fighting both for his release and for a greater share of the oil wealth produced in southern Nigeria from the government.

Many of the inhabitants of the Niger river delta region live in crippling poverty despite the riches that the oil pumped out from under their villages bring the government.

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