Quasi-News and Commetary
True their word, the confederation of militant organizations in the oil producing region of Nigeria that calls itself the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), has upped the violence a notch. At approximately 1 PM yesterday, militants bombed the Shell Petroleum Development Company’s residential compound in Port Harcourt. Simutaneously, another bomb exploded between Rivers State Univerity of Technology and AGIP, destroying part of a fence at the Italian Company.
At about the time the two explosions were heard, journalists around the globe who have been following the troubles in the Niger Delta region closely since MEND came on the scene in January this year, received short email communiques from MEND. The message read, “Today December 18, 2006, operatives of the movement for the emancipation of the niger delta, successfully planted three car bombs in strategic locations around the niger delta. These bombs will be detonated any minute from now.”
Shell made a statement yesterday afternoon announcing all of its operations continue. It alsoo said their were no deaths or injuries as a result of the car bombing. Expatriates and other residents of the compound are naturally very concerned. This represented the first attack within the area they live. MEND also said in their statement to the media that they are “watching the political developments.” This is an apparent reference to a statement issued earlier in the month that listed candidates that were unacceptable to the militants. Yar’d Adua, the People’s Democratic Party (PDP) standard bearer and General Mohammed Buhari of the All Nigeria People’s Party (ANPP), were on that list of unacceptable candidates.
Other demands the militants have consistently made were for the release of two controversial Bayelsa and Rivers State men, former governor of Bayelsa, Diepreye Alamieseigha and militant leader Alhaji Asari Dokubo. Both men have been held almost 450 days. Dokubo’s trial for treason is ongoing.
MEND told the media it used cell phones to detonate the bombs that they said were fashioned from a combination of military and commercial explosives. The group has a history of pre-announcing its plans and also revealing its methods.
The bomb that went off in the Shell compound was apparently in a vehicle parked in the Shell Club’s parking lot. Four other vehicles were damaged in the blast. MEND claimed it aborted one bombing due to the presence of a large number of innocent people nearby who could have been injured.
“We have previously warned all Nigerian workers on Agip(s) terminal in Brass to vacate that facility. This warning will not be repeated. Attacks against oil industry targets will increase, be carried out without warning and with extreme ruthlessness.”
MEND has been known to keep most of the promises it made in the past. It has attacked facilities it warned would be attacked and has threatened kidnappings days before they occurred. This crisis is far from over.
Update:Â A transcript of the most recent email from MEND:
Today Monday, December 18, 2006, operatives of the movement for the emancipation of the niger delta (MEND) planted tthree car bombs in locations strategic to the oil industry in the niger delta.
The operative in one location reported a concentration of civilians at his location and that bombing was aborted at the very last minute to prevent loss of innocent lives.
The other two bombings were directed at Shell R.A. and Agip in gra all in port harcourt, rivers state in the niger delta.
Both bombs were triggered by cell phone and were a cocktail of military and commercial explosives.
Again we warn all those with dealings with oil companies in the delta to steer well clear of all facilities of these companies.
We have previously warned all nigerian workers at the agip terminal in rass to vacate that facility. This warning will not be repeated.
Attacks against oil industry targets will increase,be carried out without warning and with extreme ruthlessness.
We are impervious to the unfolding political drama in nigeria and still have as our goal, resource control for the niger delta. Until this and every single one of our demands is met, the nigerian government and oil industry will persistently bear the brunt of our rage.
Finally we warn all in the oil industry to disregard the assurances of frauds who have been misleading general obasanjo and the oil companies.
These criminals have no respect from us and were never delegated to represent us. All hostages seized in our attack on the agip facility in brass will be held indeffinately. They are in big trouble! The possible release of these individuals is directly tied to the release of hostages of niger delta origin in nigerian government hands. We will capture more very soon until we have in our hands enough to trade with the nigerian government.