Attackers blew up an oil pipeline on Tuesday sparking a major fire killing eight children in southern NigeriaAttackers blew up an oil
pipeline on Tuesday sparking a major fire killing eight children in
southern Nigeria, said residents and industry officials.

The
blast at a Royal Dutch Shell facility 50 km southwest of the oil town
of Port Harcourt, rocked villages in the early hours of Tuesday.

‘So
far no fewer than eight children have been roasted and their corpses
have been recovered,’ said Mowan Etete, a spokesman for the Andoni
ethnic minority worst-hit by the resulting oil spill, told reporters.

Burning crude quickly swept through creeks and
waterways setting alight several villages and fishing settlements built on stilts or along the water’s edge.

Eye
witnesses said armed men wearing red bands, often sported by militia
fighters, had arrived in four speed boats sometime after midnight and
ordered them to leave. The men planted explosives on crude oil
pipelines, detonating them as they sped away, they said.

‘We
are surprised by this callous attack on our people by militiamen and we
are calling on the government and the oil company to come to the aid of
the victims,’ Etete said.

Shell officials could not confirm who carried
out the attack but confirmed that dynamite may have been used.

‘Preliminary
investigations reveal that the fire may have been caused by a dynamite
attack carried out by unknown persons,’ Shell said in the statement.

The blast stopped daily production of 170,000
barrels of oil from Shell’s Diebu Creek and River Nun Creek facilities
that use the pipeline. Security forces have been notified and an
investigation launched, Shell said.

Shell controls half of
Nigeria’s 2 million barrels per day output that makes it the largest
oil producing nation in sub-Saharan Africa.

Illegal tapping of
pipelines to siphon off crude for sale on the black market is a major
problem in the oil rich Niger Delta and can spark deadly infernos.

Tensions have been high in the delta since the government
arrested the region’s most influential militia leader, Moujahid Dokubo-Asari, in September and charged him with treason.

Dokubo’s
Niger Delta People’s Volunteer Force (NDPVF) took up arms to fight for
the interests of the Niger Delta majority Ijaw ethnic group, alleging
that successive governments cheated their impoverished communities of
the oil wealth produced on their land.

The
group’s threat to wage an ‘all-out war’ against the government and the
oil companies helped push oil prices to the US $50 mark for the first
time ever in 2004.

After talks with President Olusegun Obasanjo,
Dokubo agreed to give up his group’s weapons in exchange for cash payments to the militia fighters.

When the militia leader reneged on the deal and threatened more attacks on oil facilities,
security forces arrested him.

No group has claimed responsibility for the Tuesday attack.

Source : www.alertnet.org