Nigerian military pursues militants in oil-producing region
LAGOS: Nigeria's military pursued militants in the country's main oil-producing region on Thursday after raiding three camps allegedly run by a notorious gang leader blamed for a series of crimes.
The raids in southern Delta state targeted camps believed run by a militant who goes by the name John Togo, said Colonel Timothy Antigha, who said he could not yet say whether he had been captured.
A senior military source said Togo, whose real name is thought to be John Esoko, had not been captured and soldiers were still pursuing him.
His gang is blamed for piracy, robbery and rapes in Delta state, said Antigha, who accused Togo and others of using militancy as an excuse to commit crimes.
Togo had accepted an amnesty offered to militants by the government last year, but has since returned to illegal activities, Antigha said.
"This militancy thing has been used by criminal gangs who used it as an avenue to enrich themselves," he said. "Has any of them gone back to their community to build one school?"
A militant group believed to be run by Togo, the Niger Delta Liberation Force, claimed more than 100 people were killed in Wednesday's raids.
Antigha said the number of casualties was unclear, but argued that anyone killed would have been a criminal since only camps were raided. He declined to provide details on the raids themselves.
The military also recently raided camps in Rivers state believed to belong to a militant who goes by the name Obese, who was blamed for a series of abductions of foreign and Nigerian oil workers. Police say he has been arrested.
MEND is the main militant group operating in the vast creeks and swamps of the Niger Delta, but it is believed to have splintered, particularly over the amnesty offered last year.
The group-the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta-has also been seen as an umbrella organisation for criminal gangs, though it claims to be fighting for a fairer distribution of oil revenue. -Afp
SEOUL: South Korean soldiers stand guard at a guard post near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas, during a photo opportunity in Cheorwon, about 80 km northeast of Seoul. -Ap