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Militants warn against oil firms to quit Niger Delta
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Militants in Nigerian oil-rich Niger Delta region have given an ultimatum to oil companies operating in the region to leave before Feb. 14 or expect a massacre, reported the Nation newspaper on Wednesday.

The international oil companies operated in Niger Delta have been accused by the rebel groups of backing and aiding the Nigerian military to carry out attacks on their camps and so must expect the worse on Valentine Day.

The Niger Delta Patriotic Force (NDPF) in a statement, signed by its leader Ateke Tom, released to journalists in Port Harcourt, gave the Nigerian federal government and other foreign oil operators an ultimatum to evacuate the Niger Delta or expect a Valentine's Day Massacre.

It is alleged that the installations, facilities and staff of the aforementioned oil companies would be targets of militant attacks on that day.

"It's our belief that we'll win this fight morally and otherwise. Let the wind of terror blow; let the sound of the gun echo across the seas, land and even beyond the Niger Delta. The volcano has just erupted," the statement reads.

"We've named it Operation Zero Exploration, we hereby give from this day till February 14, 2009, for all oil companies to quit the Niger Delta in their own interest because Operation Zero Exploration is targeted towards oil companies, that use the JTF to intimidate our people," it said.

Major oil firms have been contending with difficult situations in the oil-rich Niger Delta where militants have been disrupting oil production activities.

The rampant militancy and criminal activities in Niger Delta region has long been an obstacle for Nigeria's effort to expand oil production. Since the beginning of 2006, several hundred foreigners have been kidnapped and frequent attacks have been registered in the oil region, leading to an estimated oil shut-in of 20 percent compared with the peak daily production of 2.6 million barrels.

(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2009)

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