A fresh explosion at a pipeline operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company has confused locals and security forces, with no one certain it was a militant attack. In fact, according to security force sources quoted by Nigerian media, the burst was a result of a fault in the pipeline.
Even so, an investigation is being conducted by the Joint Task Force, which was deployed in the Delta when the militant attacks began. A spokesman for the JTF said the explosion was not a deliberate attack. To further confuse matters, however, a spokesman for a local community, the chairman of the Ughelli South council, told media that the security forces are pursuing the perpetrators of the deed.
Media note that the Niger Delta Greenland Justice Mandate, one militant group that has been getting increasingly active, operates in the Delta state where the explosion occurred.
At the start of this month, the NDGJM claimed responsibility for another bombing in the Delta state of the Effurun-Otor pipeline, which was also operated by the Nigerian Petroleum Development Company. That attack came shortly after federal president Buhari said that the central government would invest US$10 billion on infrastructure projects in the Niger Delta as part of the effort to end the violence there.
The NDGJM came into the spotlight in September, with a bombing of another NPDC pipeline, again in the Delta state. In August, the Niger Delta Avengers, the most prominent militant organization in the Delta, agreed to a truce with the government, but later broke it, resuming attacks and claiming the presence of military forces in the Niger Delta were the reason for the renewed violence.
Given their focus on the Delta state and infrastructure operated by the NPDC, the NDGJM is the most likely group behind the latest explosion, provided the investigation confirms it was the result of deliberate actions.