A major oil storage and distribution point in Lagos, Nigeria, was seized and heavily damaged by militants from the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND).
Despite having copious reserves of crude oil, Nigeria has been forced by repeated pipeline attacks to close its refineries and import refined oil. The Lagos facility had handled 35% of Nigerias refined oil imports.
An assault group struck the port on the night of 13 July, killing five sailors guarding the port before the rest fled. It dynamited 10 pipelines leading into the terminal, causing an explosion that was heard throughout the city. The attackers returned to base without apparent intervention from the Joint Task Force (JTF), a security force detailed with eliminating the insurgency in the oil-rich Delta.
The rumoured mastermind of the attack, fugitive militant leader and tribal chief Government Ekpemupolo (a.k.a. Tompolo) was allegedly running a protection racket against foreign oil firms.
The Niger Delta militants, who seek a greater share of Nigerias oil revenues, have succeeded in cutting down Nigerias monthly oil revenues to $1 billion (708 million) a month, compared to $2.2 billion in 2008.
MEND has rarely attacked sites outside the Niger Delta, focusing mainly on oil facilities in the Delta, Bayelsa and Rivers states in southern Nigeria.
They are obviously getting much bolder, said a private security source working for the oil industry. We are on the look out for more attacks. They could happen anywhere now.