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Nigerian troops thwart ship hijacking, kill seven suspected pirates

In another incident, the troops arrested five pipeline vandals on October 17 and 18 around the port city of Warri. Photograph: (Others)

WION Lagos, Nigeria Oct 23, 2016, 11.00 PM (IST)

After a fierce exchange of fire, the Nigerian troops thwarted an attempted hijack of a vessel in the restive Niger Delta. 

Lieutenant Commander Thomas Otuji said in a statement that seven suspected pirates and militants were killed in crossfire last week during the rescue operation. A group of hostages had also been freed unhurt. 

"Troops of Operation Base 2 repelled a hijack of a vessel (MT VAJARA) by heavily armed bandits in Ramos River, around Agge area of Delta state," he said. 

The commander said the Nigerian military were taking measures to make the entire Niger Delta and the waterways safe for oil firms, vessels and their crew. 

In another incident, the troops arrested five people on October 17 and 18 near oil pipelines around the port city of Warri. 

"Five suspected vandals were arrested and they confessed to their plan to vandalise the wellheads," he said, adding that two boats were recovered during the operation. 

After President Muhammadu Buhari last year announced he was winding down an amnesty to former militants in the oil-rich region, ship hijackings and militant attacks on oil facilities have become more frequent. 

The militants claim to be seeking a larger share of the country's oil wealth for residents of the region as well as political autonomy. The government has urged the rebels to end the unrest and embrace the peace talks to be held on October 31. 

(WION with inputs from AFP)

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