[QODLink]
Africa

Armed men ambush police boat in Nigeria

At least 12 police officers missing, presumed dead, after attack in oil-rich Niger Delta, security officials say.

Last Modified: 07 Apr 2013 15:48
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Attacks on security forces in the delta had stopped after MEND reached a deal with the government [File: EPA]

Armed men have ambushed a police boat in Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region, leaving 12 officers missing and presumed dead, security officials said.

Police Commissioner Kingsley Omire said on Sunday the boat, carrying 50 police officials, was heading to a funeral late on Friday.

The vessel developed engine problems in one of the winding creeks of the swampy delta region that is home to Africa's biggest oil industry, he said.

"The craft developed engine problem was now isolated and the officers became soft target for some hoodlums, who we have confirmed were part of a militant group that was supposed to be enjoying an amnesty," Omire said.

A Nigerian security source, who could not be named because he was not authorized to speak to the media, said the 12 were very likely all dead, although Omire said all others on the boat were safe.

New threats 

Sunday's ambush came days after the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), the main group which has been fighting for a greater share of the country's oil wealth, a threatened to restart attacks in retaliation for the jailing of leader Henry Okah by a South African court.

The group had agreed in 2009 to halt attacks in the delta after the government promised to look into its grievances.

Omire said the ambush was carried out by gunmen once loyal to Kile Selky Torughedi, who headed MEND's southern wing.

But he denied there was a link to the threat by the group, whose attacks cut oil production in Nigeria by around half before the amnesty.

He instead blamed a dispute between the gunmen and the government over their amnesty payments - underscoring the fragility of the peace that has been achieved in the delta by paying off thousands of fighters to silence their guns.

The government is keen to end amnesty payments but fears the move could trigger renewed attacks.

Any new attacks would be a blow to President Goodluck Jonathan, who helped negotiate the amnesty and who is from the same Ijaw ethnic group as most of the armed men.

His administration's security forces are already stretched by armed groups in the north.

370

Source:
Agencies
Email Article
Print Article
Share article
Send Feedback
Topics in this article
People
Country
Organisation
Featured on Al Jazeera
At least 25 tax collectors have been killed since 2012 in Mogadishu, a city awash in weapons and abject poverty.
Tokyo government claims its homeless population has hit a record low, but analysts - and the homeless - beg to differ.
3D printers can cheaply construct homes and could soon be deployed to help victims of catastrophe rebuild their lives.
Lack of child protection laws means abandoned and orphaned kids rely heavily on the care of strangers.
Featured
Booming global trade in 50-million-year-old amber stones is lucrative, controversial, and extremely dangerous.
Legendary Native-American High Bird was trained in ancient warrior traditions, which he employed in World War II.
Hounded opposition figure says he's hoping for the best at sodomy appeal but prepared to return to prison.
Fears of rising Islamophobia and racial profiling after two soldiers killed in separate incidents.
Group's culture of summary justice is back in Northern Ireland's spotlight after new sexual assault accusations.