Militants in Nigeria’s oil-rich Niger Delta region have claimed a gang leader was executed by soldiers. But a military spokesman said that Tubotamuno Angolia – also known as Boy Chiki – was killed as he tried to escape arrest.

The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (Mend) said they would break a ceasefire with “spectacular attacks” on soldiers as a result. Mr Angolia was shot a day after gunmen killed two soldiers in Delta State.

Many armed groups operate in the Niger Delta.

Some claim to be fighting for a bigger share in the oil wealth for people of the Niger Delta, but others use an almost complete breakdown in the rule of law to make money by extortion, oil theft and kidnapping.

Oil production in the Delta has been cut by about a fifth because of violence in recent years.

Mend is promising reprisal attacks as a result of Mr Angolia’s death. He was arrested in the Bakana district of Rivers State, Reuters news agency reported.

According to a military spokesman, Mr Angolia, who is on the military Joint Task Force’s “most wanted list”, tried to escape.

“As a result, he was fired at and sustained a bullet wound which resulted in his death,” military spokesman Lt Col Sagir Musa said.

In a press statement emailed to journalists, a spokesman for Mend – the most publically visible militant group in the region – said Mr Angolia had been “urinated and spat on” before being shot while still in handcuffs.

It denied that Mr Angolia belonged to Mend. But the statement said: “Since the JTF [Joint Task Force] is not a law onto itself, it cannot arrogate the type of justice to mete out to any suspect on its so-called wanted list.”



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