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

Arts and Entertainment
TVShow's twee, safe facade smashed by ice cream melting scandal
Life and Style
life
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
News
Actor, model and now record breaker: Jiff the Pomeranian
Video
News
REX/Eye Candy
science
Sport
Alexis Sanchez celebrates after scoring his first goal for Arsenal in the Champions League qualifier against Besiktas
sportChilean's first goal for the club secures place in draw for Champions League group stages
News
i100
News
Down time: an employee of Google uses the slide to get to the canteen
scienceBosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder
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

Project Coordinator

£20000 - £30000 Per Annum: The Green Recruitment Company: Job Title: Project C...

EYFS Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Our Primary School in Grimsby ar...

IT Application Support Engineer - Immediate Start

£28000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Software Application Support Analyst - Imm...

Year 6 Teacher

£100 - £120 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Year 6 Supply Teacher Position a...

Day In a Page

Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone
Amazon is buying Twitch for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?

What is the appeal of Twitch?

Amazon is buying the video-game-themed online streaming site for £600m - but why do people want to watch others playing Xbox?
Tip-tapping typewriters, ripe pongs and slides in the office: Bosses are inventing surprising ways of making us work harder

How bosses are making us work harder

As it is revealed that one newspaper office pumps out the sound of typewriters to increase productivity, Gillian Orr explores the other devices designed to motivate staff
Manufacturers are struggling to keep up with the resurgence in vinyl records

Hard pressed: Resurgence in vinyl records

As the resurgence in vinyl records continues, manufacturers and their outdated machinery are struggling to keep up with the demand
Tony Jordan: 'I turned down the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series nine times ... then I found a kindred spirit'

A tale of two writers

Offered the chance to research Charles Dickens for a TV series, Tony Jordan turned it down. Nine times. The man behind EastEnders and Life on Mars didn’t feel right for the job. Finally, he gave in - and found an unexpected kindred spirit
Could a later start to the school day be the most useful educational reform of all?

Should pupils get a lie in?

Doctors want a later start to the school day so that pupils can sleep later. Not because teenagers are lazy, explains Simon Usborne - it's all down to their circadian rhythms
Prepare for Jewish jokes – as Jewish comedians get their own festival

Prepare for Jewish jokes...

... as Jewish comedians get their own festival
SJ Watson: 'I still can't quite believe that Before I Go to Sleep started in my head'

A dream come true for SJ Watson

Watson was working part time in the NHS when his debut novel, Before I Go to Sleep, became a bestseller. Now it's a Hollywood movie, too. Here he recalls the whirlwind journey from children’s ward to A-list film set
10 best cycling bags for commuters

10 best cycling bags for commuters

Gear up for next week’s National Cycle to Work day with one of these practical backpacks and messenger bags
Paul Scholes: Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United

Paul Scholes column

Three at the back isn’t working yet but given time I’m hopeful Louis van Gaal can rebuild Manchester United
Kate Bush, Hammersmith Apollo music review: A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it

Kate Bush shows a voice untroubled by time

A preamble, then a coup de théâtre - and suddenly the long wait felt worth it
Robot sheepdog technology could be used to save people from burning buildings

The science of herding is cracked

Mathematical model would allow robots to be programmed to control crowds and save people from burning buildings
Tyrant: Is the world ready for a Middle Eastern 'Dallas'?

This tyrant doesn’t rule

It’s billed as a Middle Eastern ‘Dallas’, so why does Fox’s new drama have a white British star?