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Militants step up 'oil war' in Niger Delta

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Militants in southern Nigeria have sharply stepped up attacks on foreign interests after declaring an "oil war" Sunday. The campaign, which the militants have dubbed "Hurricane Barbarossa," entered its third day Tuesday with an attack on a Royal Dutch Shell pipeline after attacks on Shell and Chevron facilities in previous days.

The Nigerian government has tried to downplay the threat. But the violence looks set to further disturb oil supplies from Nigeria, the United States' fifth-largest source of oil, at a time when global supplies are already being squeezed.

Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Tuesday that the main militant group, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), said it had "blown up and destroyed" a Shell pipeline.

"A major crude oil pipeline at Bakana Front in Degema Local Government Area ... was destroyed with high explosives by MEND detonation engineers backed by heavily-armed fighters," MEND said in an email statement to the media....
MEND declared an all-out war on the oil industry at the weekend in response to what it said was an unprovoked attack by the Nigerian military on one of its positions on Saturday.
Other less prominent armed groups appear to have either joined forces with MEND or taken advantage of the confusion.
Unidentified gunmen on Monday night kidnapped a Briton in Port Harcourt, the capital of Rivers, Sagir told AFP, without giving further details.
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