Militants say oil attacks to continue

Nigerian militants who released four foreign hostages on Monday said they would continue their attacks on the oil industry with the aim of reducing 30 percent of Nigeria’s exports in February.

The group, whose six-week campaign of violence crippled a tenth of Nigeria’s oil production and pushed world oil prices to four-month highs, said they had released their captives on humanitarian grounds and had not accepted any ransom money.

“This release does not signify a ceasefire or a softening of our position to destroy the oil export capability of the Nigerian government,” the ethnic Ijaw militants said in an email to Reuters.

“We will shortly carry out significant attacks aimed at ensuring our February target of a 30 percent reduction of Nigeria’s export capacity,” the email said.

“We intend to hold captive any expatriates unfortunate (enough) to be found on any oil installations attacked,” the group said. “They will be released under no condition.”

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta said the hostages’ release followed mediation by representatives of former Bayelsa state governor Diepreye Alamieyeseigha, impeached last month on money laundering charges.

The group had made the ex-governor’s release one of their conditions for freeing the hostages. They had also sought the release of an Ijaw militia leader and $1.5 billion in pollution compensation to villages from Royal Dutch Shell.

The email said the hostages, abducted 19 days ago from a Shell oilfield, would have been released a week earlier had it not been for Friday a deadline set by the government of Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo.

The group repeated threats to carry out “brutal reprisals” if the Nigerian military attacked villages in the Niger Delta in punishment for the death of more than a dozen soldiers in the attacks.

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