By Sylvester Idowu in Warri
Less than 24 hours after a dialogue between President Muhammadu Buhari and leaders of the Niger Delta to resolve the crisis in the region, unrepentant militants on Wednesday blasted an oil pipeline belonging to the Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) in Batan community in Warri South West Local Government area of Delta State.
Sources told THISDAY that the incident occurred at SPDC Camp Five between 4 and 5 a.m. with a huge fire enveloping the site of the attack.
“Suspected militants attacked the SPDC pipeline in Batan 4 and 5 a.m. with dynamites. As I am speaking, the place is engulfed with fire but efforts are being made to put it off,” a community source said.
Another community source confirmed the incident, stating that they heard a huge explosion in the early hours of the day only to discover it was a pipeline belonging to Shell that had been attacked.
“We heard a huge explosion. As usual, when we came out, we discovered that the Shell pipeline has been attacked again. We are not sure whether it was militants that caused it or not.”
The Niger Delta Advengers (NDA), the militant group that has claimed responsibility for the destruction of oil facilities in the Niger Delta, was yet to claim responsibility for this one at the time of filing this report.
The same pipeline had been attacked by suspected militants on July 18, this year without any resistance by the military stationed in the area.
Security sources disclosed that the latest attack by the militants might be as a result of the commencement of repair work on the pipeline while negotiations are ongoing between the Niger Delta leaders and the Federal Government.
“You know that they have always warned that no repair work should be carried out on any of the oil pipelines breached. Maybe they are angry that SPDC has commenced repair work and had to resort to the attack,” a military source told THISDAY.
An undercover security agent however had a contrary view, claiming that illegal oil bunkerers have deployed a new tactic of engaging militants to breach pipelines to divert the attention of security agents away from their illegal act.