Page last updated at 21:33 GMT, Friday, 10 July 2009 22:33 UK

Nigerian group claims oil attack

A masked militant in the Niger Delta
Nigerian militants have claimed a number of attacks in recent days

Nigeria's most prominent militant group says it has blown up an oil pipeline operated by Chevron only recently repaired following a previous attack.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said it had targeted a pipeline linking Alero creek to a Chevron terminal in Delta state.

"Our fighters revisited the recently repaired Chevron pipeline... and destroyed it again," the group said.

Attacks in the Niger Delta have severely cut Nigeria's oil output.

Mend said it had blown up the pipeline at about 1900 GMT. There was no immediate confirmation of the attack.

The militants claim to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil wealth, though the government has in the past dismissed them as common criminals.

Amnesty offer

In the statement released on Friday, the group said it would now target repaired infrastructure because the government and oil companies cared more about fixing the installations than helping people displaced by a military offensive.

"If the government can show the same speed... which it exhibited in repairing the lines as returning the displaced communities, the region will be a better place," it said.

The attack came one day after a lawyer acting for Henry Okah, a jailed militant who headed Mend before his arrest, said he had accepted a government offer of an amnesty.

Mr Okah was arrested in Angola in 2007. His release has been one of the militant group's key demands.

A senior Mend official confirmed to the BBC that if Mr Okah was set free, the organisation would lay down its arms.

But he also said that the release of Mr Okah was only one of many issues to be settled in the region.

The government recently offered an amnesty to members of any militant group that lays down its weapons.

But a second spokesman for Mend said yesterday that while he supported Mr Okah's decision, he did not think the amnesty offer was aimed at "freedom fighters" because it did not allow for negotiation.

In recent days Mend has claimed to have blown up several oil pipelines and has captured six foreign crew from onboard an oil tanker.

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