The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta, MEND, the umbrella body of armed groups in Nigeria’s Niger Delta said it was responsible for the deaths of police officers killed in a boat ambush in Bayelsa state.
The police admitted on Sunday that 12 of its officers were killed, but denied the attackers were members of MEND which had earlier threatened to resume hostilities in the restive region over the jailing of its leader, Henry Okah.
Mr. Okah was jailed in South Africa for 24 years over the 2010 Independence Day bomb that killed at least a dozen people in Abuja.
The government dismissed an earlier threat by the group, in which it warned that attacks will resume on Friday.
The group said in a statement late Sunday that it killed 15 members of security operatives deployed to maintain the peace in Bayelsa state.
Bayelsa police spokesperson, Kinglsey Omire, said the boat was conveying 15 policemen at the time of the attack, and was ambushed by their attackers. He said the four policemen who survived, managed to have jumped into the river before swimming to safety.
Although he said it was too early to know who the attackers were, he said he suspected a dispute between the attackers and the government over the payment of allowances to former members of the militant groups who embraced the amnesty programme initiated to restrain militancy in the oil-rich region.
But, MEND said in a statement quoted by agency report that its members killed the policemen during a confrontation that led to the loss of two of its men.
“All oil companies and the public are advised to ignore the false sense of security,” given by the security agencies, the report quoted the group as saying. “We remain resolute in our resumption of hostilities.”