At least eight policemen and a civilian were killed on Tuesday
as gunmen attacked the offices of the Italian oil company Agip in
southern Nigeria, officials said.
The attack on Agip, a unit of Italy's Eni, came after a spate of
violence hit Nigeria's oil-producing Niger Delta region in the last
one month, cutting the country's daily oil output of 2.5 million
barrels by about 9 percent.
"Nine people were killed, one of them was a civilian, I don't
know whether he is Agip oil worker, eight others were policemen,"
said Rivers state police spokesperson Ireju Barasua.
In a statement, Eni confirmed nine deaths in the attack, saying
that no Italian people had been injured.
"At approximately 2:30 PM (1330 GMT) today, a group of armed
individuals entered its Port Harcourt (the capital of Rivers state)
base in the Niger Delta. The armed gang exchanged fire with the
local security forces and made their way to a banking facility
which is located on the base," the statement said.
"Subsequently, after a brief occupation of the premises, the
gang vacated the bank and left the base at approximately 3:30 PM
Barasua described the incident as a "robbery" and quoted bank
workers as saying that four million naira (US$30,769) was
"When they came through the waterfront ... (they) shot the first
policeman at the gate (of the offices), policemen who were on
ground duty were alerted that there was enemy," said Barasua.
"So they (policemen) entered into a bullion van and drove into
the compound to dislodge them and saw them (gunmen) with army
camouflage thinking that they were military ... and were shot dead,
" she added.
Eni said it had temporarily evacuated staff and contractors from
the area of the base affected by the incident and the situation was
currently under control.
Only a day ago, protesters stormed an Agip oil production
facility in the neighboring Bayelsa State but were driven off by
Last month, Nigeria's Niger Delta, where the majority of the
country's oil is produced, had witnessed a series of attacks on oil
facilities and the kidnapping of four foreign oil workers who
currently were still being held hostages.
A previously unknown group, who calls itself the Movement for
the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, had claimed responsibility for
the incidents, which had forced Royal Dutch Shell, the biggest oil
investor in Nigeria, to cut about 221,000 barrels of oil per
Spokesperson for the Bayelsa State Governor Ekiyor Welson hinted
on Tuesday the four workers, an American, a Briton, a Bulgarian and
a Honduran, who were working for Shell's subcontractors, could be
released this week.
Welson told the official News Agency of Nigeria that the
negotiations between Ijaw ethic leaders and the abductors had
reached "an advanced stage" but government officials and security
operatives were not involved.
The four hostages were seized on January 11 from an offshore oil
field operated by Royal Dutch Shell, the largest oil investor in
(China Daily January 26, 2006)