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Nigerian militants abduct crew in attack on Shell

LAGOS (AFP) — Nigerian militants early Sunday attacked a loading vessel, a tanker and a tug boat at a crude oil platform operated by Shell in Bonny and took eight crew members hostage, police and the military said.

The militants killed one person and injured the captain of the tug boat, a military spokesman said.

“All those kidnapped were Nigerians. They were taken aboard the vessel in Bonny,” Rivers state police spokeswoman Rita Abbey told AFP, adding that security agents were still investigating the incident.

Industry sources said the attack on the MV Lamnalco Waxbill loading vessel happened between 12.00 am and 1:00 am on the joint partner platform owned by Shell and the state-run Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC).

Local military spokesman Lieutenant Colonel Musa Sagir said the militants boarded a tanker, MV Front Chief, which they looted.

“They also attacked a tug boat towing a supply vessel from Bonny to Calabar,” he said, adding that one person had been killed and the captain injured.

He said the navy later encountered the militants, but did not give details of the encounter.

Shell’s spokesman Precious Okolobo confirmed the attack, saying “there has has been an attack on two vessels” at a Shell crude loading platform in Bonny.

“The incident occurred yesterday night. We are investigating to get more details,” he added.

Shell officials said the vessels belonged to sub-contracting firms working for the Anglo-Dutch in southern Nigeria.

No group has claimed responsibility for the incident, coming on a day the most prominent armed group in the Niger Delta said it had moved two British oil workers it was holding to another location.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said it took the step after a botched attempt by government troops to rescue the hostages. It said civilians were hurt during the operation.

MEND rose to prominence in January 2006 and has since claimed responsibility for a string of violent attacks on Nigeria’s multi-billion dollar oil industry and kidnappings of both local and foreign oil workers in the region.

The unrest has reduced Nigeria’s oil output by more than one quarter. Production currently stands around two million barrels a day against 2.6 million barrels in 2006.

Copyright © 2009 AFP. All rights reserved

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