Ex-rebels meet Jonathan over bombings

2010-10-06 07:35

Abuja - Dozens of former militants from the oil rich Niger Delta went to see Nigerian President Goodluck Jonathan on Tuesday to say they were not involved in last week's bomb attacks in the capital.

The visit by more than 60 former fighters and some of the commanders of the Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) came four days after the deadly twin car bombs just a few hundred metres from an independence day parade.

Mens, in a statement claimed responsibility for the attack.

"We are not part of the incident on the 1st of October," Government Ekpemupolo, popularly known as 'Tompolo', told Jonathan at a meeting that was open to journalists.

"Mend is not involved," said Tompolo, claiming to be a leader of Mend, the most prominent of several groups in Nigeria's southern oil-rich swamps.

Jonathan has blamed the attacks which occurred while the west African country marked its 50th independence anniversary celebrations on "a small terrorist group that resides outside Nigeria that was paid by some people".

"I'm happy that you are here as the actors and leaders of Mend, to tell Nigerians and the rest of the world that it is not Mend that did it," he told the former fighters.

The group, which has been seen as an umbrella organisation for criminal gangs and which police have called "amorphous", had never before struck in the capital and rarely caused such a high number of casualties.

It has carried out scores of attacks in the Niger Delta, the country's main oil-producing region, but an amnesty deal offered by the government last year has greatly reduced the unrest.