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Page last updated at 09:33 GMT, Thursday, 25 September 2008 10:33 UK

Mass arrest of Nigerian militants

Niger Delta militants
Militants launched a series of attacks on oil facilities last week

Nigerian police have arrested more than 200 suspected militants in raids in the oil-rich Niger Delta, authorities say.

Some suspects are accused of recruiting youths to target oil installations around Port Harcourt.

The military commander in Rivers State was cited as saying his men had found almost all militant camps there, and he would mount a campaign to destroy them.

Militant attacks in the Niger Delta have cut Nigeria's oil production by about 20% in recent years.

The main militant group in the Niger Delta declared a ceasefire at the weekend.

One week earlier militants, had declared a "war" on Nigeria's oil industry, after a fierce military raid on one of their bases.

Map of Nigeria

They stepped up attacks on oil installations, before the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) declared a unilateral ceasefire.

Recent violence has been the worst in two years.

On Saturday oil giant Shell was forced to declare a "force majeure", which frees it from contractual obligations on crude oil shipments from its Niger Delta facilities.

Groups like Mend claim say they are fighting for more control over oil wealth in the impoverished Niger Delta, but they are accused of making money from criminal rackets and trade in stolen oil.



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