Wednesday, June 07, 2006

MEND kidnaps five South Koreans, kills at least four soldiers

Only hours after a Niger Delta group with unknown affiliation kidnapped, then released, eight deep-sea oil rig workers 40 miles off the coast of Bayelsa State, Nigeria, the Voice of America was warning us all to expect further abductions and oil supply disruptions.

And sure enough ...

Reuters has the story:
Armed militants attacked a natural gas plant operated by Royal Dutch Shell in Nigeria's southern delta on Wednesday, killing at least four soldiers and kidnapping five South Korean contractors.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) claimed responsibility and said the Koreans would be freed in exchange for a jailed militia leader who is on trial for treason and was denied bail by a Nigerian court on Tuesday.

The attack comes just three days after eight foreign oil workers were released by a different group of kidnappers, and is the latest sign of rising militancy across the oil heartland of Africa's top producer.

MEND, whose attacks have already forced the closure of a quarter of Nigerian oil output since February, had previously demanded the release of militia leader Mujahid Dokubo-Asari as one of several conditions for ending the violence.

The oil workers were kidnapped months after a Korean contractor (Korean National Oil Company, or KNOC) was awarded exploration rights in the Niger Delta in exchange for "billions of dollars in investment in Nigeria's decaying industrial infrastructure." Three of the workers are employed by Daewoo Engineering and Construction Co. and two by Korea Gas Corp.

Interestingly, Mujahid Dokubo-Asari is the leader of the Niger Delta People Volunteer's Force, not MEND, but lately these groups have begun to "umbrella" under the "Joint Revolutionary Council."

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