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The most prominent armed group in southern Nigeria on Monday claimed responsibility for an attack on a navy outpost protecting an oil pipeline which killed three soldiers at the weekend.
"In the early hours of Sunday, February 3, 2008, fighters from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) attacked a military houseboat stationed at the Shell Petroleum Tora manifold in Bayelsa state of Nigeria," it said in an email to AFP.
The group said it did not suffer any casualities during the attack, denying a claim by the Nigerian navy that it killed eight rebels.
"MEND carried out the attack. We did not suffer any casualties. That was not the original intended target, but we had to make do," it said, but did not say what the original target was.
Shell said the Tora manifold, located deep in the mangrove-lined creeks of Bayelsa state, was not damaged in the attack and oil production in Nigeria, the world's eighth largest oil exporter, was unaffected.
MEND shot to prominence early last year with a string of kidnappings of foreign oil workers as well as attacks on oil company property.
The group says that contrary to criminal gangs operating in the Niger Delta, it is working to improve the lot of the ordinary people of the region.
Instability and violence slashed by a quarter oil output in Nigeria, the world's eighth-largest crude exporter, in 2006 and 2007 to 2.1 million barrels per day, according to the latest estimates.
In 2007, more than 200 foreign workers were taken hostage, often being released after a ransom was paid. (AFP)
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