SA ‘link’ in Niger boat attack


Thirteen police officers were feared dead after their boat was attacked by armed men in the oil-rich Niger Delta, local media reported on Sunday.

The officers were en route late on Friday to a funeral ceremony in which they were to provide security when their boat was attacked in a mangrove swamp in southern Bayelsa state, Nigerian newspaper Vanguard reported.

The officers are assumed to have drowned after their boat was sunk by the assailants, the paper reported.

Three policemen reportedly survived the attack.

No group has claimed responsibility. However, the focus has turned to the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND), which recently threatened to launch attacks in response to the sentencing of its former leader, Henry Okah, by a South African court to 24 years in jail for a 2010 bombing.

MEND rejected the sentence on its leader, Okah, by Justice Neels Claaseen of the South Gauteng High Court.

He was found guilty of several charges of terrorism in the Independence Day bombings in Abuja in 2010 and sentenced to 24 years in jail.

In a statement signed by “Comrade Azizi,” purportedly on behalf of MEND, the group said, “Boko Haram has killed more innocent Nigerians than any other militancy groups in the country and yet their spokesperson was handed a three year sentence, this is the height of injustice to our region and people which will be resisted by all means necessary.”

The statement said that consultations were ongoing with some stakeholders and elders of the region and that its position will be made known thereafter.

“The gate of hell has just been let loss, (sic),” the statement declared. – Sapa