- Nigerian militants have declared war on military following a clash in western Niger Delta, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) has made the announcement on today.
The battle reportedly erupted after the military fired on militants along Chanomi Creek in the Delta state, a region which is home to the US energy giant Chevron's export terminal and the Nigeria's 125,000 barrels per day Warri refinery.
"MEND is declaring an all out war in the region and call upon all men of fighting age to enlist for our freedom," the armed group said in a statement.
MEND has also accused the military of using aircraft to bombard civilian targets during the fighting, where they claim women and children have been killed during the confrontation.
The military has reportedly said it was carrying out a "cordon-and-search" operation after the hijacking of two oil vessels in which more than 15 people were abducted and a number of attacks on soldiers.
A military spokesman Colonel Rabe Abubakar said the army could not allow armed forces to continue to destabilise the oil rich region, although he could not give any figures on casualties.
MEND has issued a Sunday deadline for oil companies to pull out of the Niger Delta and has seized 15 hostages from two ships since Wednesday.
The rebellion and violence in the delta has cut Nigeria's oil output by about a fifth since early 2006. A number of armed groups operate across the region, launching attacks on oil installations and pipelines, as well as abducting oil workers and local officials.
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