Twelve police officers 'missing' in Nigeria

 

Militants in Nigeria's oil-rich southern delta ambushed a group of police officers as they sat stranded in a boat in the region's winding creeks, leaving at least 12 “missing” in the most serious attack in months in a region vital to the country's finances,.

It remains unclear who carried out the attack on Friday near the village of Azuzama in Bayelsa state, though a major militant group only days earlier threatened it would resume attacks following the arrest and imprisonment of its leader in South Africa.

However, like most violence in the Niger Delta, the motives behind the assault remained as murky as the muddy creek waters flowing through a region vital to US oil supplies.

The militants attacked the contingent of police officers, who were on an unspecified special assignment, after their boat broke down near the village, Bayelsa state police spokesman Alex Akhigbe said.

"Their boat developed some mechanical fault," he said. "While they were trying to fix the boat, they were ambushed by some militants."

Mr Akhigbe declined to say what the officers' special assignment was, or whether the authorities believed they had died in the attack, though he revealed that a special rescue team had been assembled for the "recovery" of the officers.

Nigeria's Niger Delta, a region of palm groves and swamps about the size of Portugal, has been producing crude for foreign oil companies for more than 50 years.

Despite the billions of dollars flowing into Nigeria's government, many in the delta remain desperately poor, living in polluted waters without access to proper medical care, education or work.

The poor conditions sparked an uprising in 2006 by militants and opportunistic criminals who blew up oil pipelines and kidnapped foreign workers.

By 2009, most gave up their weapons as part of a government amnesty program that saw ex-fighters offered cash payments and the possibility of job training.

However, while some militant leaders now live in the country's capital and enjoy the privilege of diplomatic passports, few in the delta have seen the promised benefits and sporadic kidnappings and attacks continue.

Even more worrying for foreign oil companies is the continued tapping of their pipelines and the theft of crude oil from them.

Royal Dutch Shell, the dominant company in the region, blames the oil theft for major environmental damage and says criminals steal as much as much as 150,000 barrels of crude a day.

Shell produced about 800,000 barrels of oil a day in 2011. The International Energy Agency estimated that the theft of crude oil alone in Nigeria cost the country about 7 billion US dollars (£4.5 billion) a year.

Nigeria, which produces about 2 million of barrels of oil a day, is a major crude oil supplier to the US.

Mr Akhigbe declined to say whether police had any suspects in the attack. On Wednesday, the one-time main militant group in the region, the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, threatened to launch a series of attacks over the arrest and sentencing of Henry Okah, a gunrunner long suspected by officials of being a leader of the group.

However, experts believe the militant group has lost much of its operational capability after Okah's arrest over the 2010 car bomb attack in Nigeria's capital Abuja that killed at least a dozen people.

AP

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Life and Style
Phillips Idowu, Stella McCartney and Jessica Ennis
fashionMcCartney to continue designing Team GB Olympics kit until 2016
Sport
Shinji Kagawa and Reece James celebrate after the latter scores in Manchester United's 7-0 victory over LA Galaxy
football
Voices
voicesGood for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, writes Grace Dent
Sport
Farah returns to the track with something to prove
Commonwealth games
Life and Style
fashion Designs are part of feminist art project by a British student
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Application Support Analyst (SQL, Incident Management, SLAs)

£34000 - £37000 Per Annum + excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Lt...

Embedded Software / Firmware Engineer

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Pension, Holiday, Flexi-time: Progressive Recruitm...

Developer - WinForms, C#

£280 - £320 per day: Progressive Recruitment: C#, WinForms, Desktop Developmen...

Day In a Page

Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Screwing your way to the top? Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth

Screwing your way to the top?

Good for Lana Del Rey for helping kill that myth, says Grace Dent
Will the young Britons fighting in Syria be allowed to return home and resume their lives?

Will Britons fighting in Syria be able to resume their lives?

Tony Blair's Terrorism Act 2006 has made it an offence to take part in military action abroad with a "political, ideological, religious or racial motive"
Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter, the wartime poster girl who became a feminist pin-up

Beyoncé poses as Rosie the Riveter

The wartime poster girl became the ultimate American symbol of female empowerment
The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones: Are custom, 3D printed earbuds the solution?

The quest to find the perfect pair of earphones

Earphones don't fit properly, offer mediocre audio quality and can even be painful. So the quest to design the perfect pair is music to Seth Stevenson's ears
US Army's shooting star: Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform

Meet the US Army's shooting star

Lt-Col Steven Cole is the man Hollywood calls when it wants to borrow a tank or check a military uniform
Climate change threatens to make the antarctic fur seal extinct

Take a good look while you can

How climate change could wipe out this seal
Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier for the terminally ill?

Farewell, my lovely

Should emergency hospital weddings be made easier?
Man Booker Prize 2014 longlist: Crowdfunded novel nominated for first time

Crowdfunded novel nominated for Booker Prize

Paul Kingsnorth's 'The Wake' is in contention for the prestigious award
Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster to ensure his meals aren't poisoned

Vladimir Putin employs a full-time food taster

John Walsh salutes those brave souls who have, throughout history, put their knives on the line
Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

Tour de France effect brings Hollywood blockbusters to Yorkshire

A $25m thriller starring Sam Worthington to be made in God's Own Country
Will The Minerva Project - the first 'elite' American university to be launched in a century - change the face of higher learning?

Will The Minerva Project change the face of higher learning?

The university has no lecture halls, no debating societies, no sports teams and no fraternities. Instead, the 33 students who have made the cut at Minerva, will travel the world and change the face of higher learning
The 10 best pedicure products

Feet treat: 10 best pedicure products

Bags packed and all prepped for holidays, but feet in a state? Get them flip-flop-ready with our pick of the items for a DIY treatment
Commonwealth Games 2014: Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games

Commonwealth Games 2014

Great Scots! Planes and pipers welcome in Glasgow's Games
Jack Pitt-Brooke: Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Manchester City and Patrick Vieira make the right stand on racism