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Will Nigeria's MEND militants honor their own ceasefire?

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Just two days after launching a deadly attack on an oil dock outside Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos, gunmen from the oil-rich but poverty-stricken Niger Delta declared a unilateral ceasefire to its "all-out war" against the government.

"Effective, 0000 Hrs, Wednesday, July 15, 2009, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta [MEND] will be observing a temporary ceasefire for a 60 day period," Jomo Gbomo, the group's spokesman said in a statement.

Sunday night's attack on the Atlas Cove jetty, which left three naval officers and two oil workers dead, was the first time that militants from the Niger Delta have raided a target near Lagos - more than 250 miles from their heartland where most attacks take place. It was an escalation of MEND's war with the government of President Umaru Yar'Adua, who came to office in 2007 promising to improve the security situation in the Delta.

Top leader now free in amnesty deal

Hours after the attack, on Monday, the government freed MEND leader Henry Okah, who was on trial for treason and gun-running. He was released as part of an amnesty offer for militants announced earlier this month as part of a fresh bid to make progress on the crisis in the Delta. Mr. Okah, who is gravely ill, welcomed the offer. But few other militants appear willing to do so.


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