Three police killed in attack on Total refinery

21st December 2006, Comments 0 comments

LAGOS, Dec 21, 2006 (AFP) - Armed militants in speedboats killed three policemen in an overnight attack on a residential facility belonging to French oil company Total in southern Nigeria, while another oil major, Shell, began relocating staff dependants after a bomb blast, officials said Thursday.

LAGOS, Dec 21, 2006 (AFP) - Armed militants in speedboats killed three policemen in an overnight attack on a residential facility belonging to French oil company Total in southern Nigeria, while another oil major, Shell, began relocating staff dependants after a bomb blast, officials said Thursday.

The attack on Total was carried out on the Obagi residential facility in the southern Rivers state.

"In Obagi, we have three deaths among the policemen guarding the facility," a company spokesman at the group's headquarters in France said, adding that no Total employee had been killed.

"This was not a political attack, it was a case of banditry. There were no hostages taken," he added.

No one has so far claimed responsibility for the attack.

Dozens of local and expatriate workers at foreign-owned facilities have been kidnapped in the oil-rich Niger delta, home to Nigeria's multi-billion-dollar oil and gas industry. Almost all have been released unharmed, but some 60 Nigerian security personnel have been killed since the beginning of the year.

An industry official speaking on condition of anonymity told AFP the attack at Obagi, outside the Rivers State capital Port Harcourt, was carried out by masked men who stormed the place in speed boats.

Total is the fifth largest oil operator in Nigeria, accounting for some 235,000 barrels of crude per day of the west African country's total output of 2.6 million barrels.

The Niger delta region has seen an upsurge in violence over the past year by separatist fighters seeking a higher share of the country's oil wealth for the region's 14 million ethnic Ijaw people.

Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, meanwhile, Thursday began relocating dependants of its staff from its three residential facilities in the delta, Port Harcourt, Warri and Bonny, after a car bomb detonated by militants on Monday hit its Port Harcourt residential zone.

"What we are doing is relocating and not evacuating families and dependants of our staff," a Shell spokesman told AFP. "It is a precautionary move because of recent events in the region."

Industry sources however said the families were being sent "outside Nigeria" and that some 400 persons were affected.

A second car on Monday hit a facility owned by Italian firm Agip. Neither blast caused any casualties and material damage was minimal.

The Rivers government said in a statement it had held a security meeting with Shell and Agip over the incidents.

"The Rivers state government notes with great concern the recent explosions at the facilities of two oil majors in Port Harcourt," it said, calling the attacks "unacceptable to the government" and promising to put an end to them.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), an armed separatist group known for raids on oil installations and for hostage-taking, claimed responsibility for both blasts in an email message sent to AFP.

The group is still holding four foreigners — three Italians and one Lebanese — that it captured during a December 7 raid on an Agip facility.

The group said on Wednesday reiterated it would not trade the release of the hostages for ransom, promising further attacks unless their leaders currently jailed by the Nigerian authorities were released.

The unrest in the Niger Delta has reduced Nigeria's exports of some 2.6 million barrels per day by a quarter.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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