YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - A militant group that has claimed responsibility for several attacks on Nigeria’s oil infrastructure urged other groups on Saturday not to attack soldiers or kidnap people.
The Niger Delta Avengers militant group, which says its attacks have not killed anyone, also urged a group that said it has anti-aircraft missiles not to target any aircraft.
The recent spate of attacks in the Niger Delta, which is Nigeria’s oil producing hub, have driven the OPEC member’s crude output to a more than 20-year low and prompted President Muhammadu Buhari to send troops to the region.
The Delta is the source of most of the oil that provides 70 percent of national income. The Avengers group wants more of that wealth to be directed to the poor swampland region.
But “the war is on oil installations,” it said in a statement which referred to “the daily emergence of new groups” and added: “Avengers will deal with any group that refuses and attacks military (personnel).”
The statement, entitled “Message to Our Brothers in the Struggle”, added: “The high command is calling on all groups in Rivers, Ondo, Delta, Bayelsa, Cross River, and Akwa Ibom to not indulge in any act of kidnapping and attacking of soldiers.”
The Avengers have claimed responsibility for most of the latest attacks, most recently three on Friday, but the insurgency is splintered into factions, with each group listing their demands. It is not clear whether the Avengers wield influence over other groups.
They have said they aim to cut Nigeria’s oil production to zero. The oil minister said on Thursday that output was 1.6 million barrels per day (bpd), down from around 2 million bpd at the start of the year.
Even if the most recent attacks, which included facilities belonging to Chevron under its Escravos grade, took out all exports of the oil linked to them, June production would remain near 1.2 million bpd.
Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Ruth Pitchford