Nigerian security forces have started a joint offensive against militants from the Niger Delta that resulted in the death of 100 people. Estimates suggest the death toll could be as high as 114.

The army, air force and navy carried out raids in Lagos and Ogun states where the country's intelligence said the militants were hiding while planning attacks in the oil-rich Niger Delta, southern Nigeria.

"The significance of this combined and very vibrant effort of the Nigerian armed forces is to ensure that the militants are flushed out from that general area where they have been causing mayhem and, more significantly, to ensure that their hideouts and camps are completely taken away from that place," army's spokesperson, Colonel Rabe Abubakar, said in a statement.

He added the joint offensive is expected to continue in other parts of the country.

The offensive started as as attacks blamed on the Niger Delta Avengers (NDA) militant group, which emerged at the beginning of the year, have brought oil production to a 30-year low. NDA, the latest group to wage war against Nigeria due to perceived marginalisation in the Delta, vowed to bring the country's oil production down "to zero".

Latest estimates by the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation (NNPC) suggested that oil production in Nigeria, Africa's biggest oil producer, increased to 1.9m barrels from 1.4m barrels a day.

Niger Delta Avengers
The Niger Delta Avengers are the latest militant group to wage war against the Nigerian government, having accused the ruling party of marginalising people in the oil-rich Niger Delta Niger Delta Avengers/Facebook

Dialogue with militants

The Nigerian government has claimed several times it has started a dialogue with the militants to find a solution to renewed violence, something the NDA has always denied.

Shortly after President Muhammadu Buhari confirmed talks were taking place in July, the NDA accused him of spreading false claims and claimed responsibility for an attack at a gas pipeline in Akwa Ibom state.

The NDA, the latest militant group to wage war against Nigeria due to perceived marginalisation in the Delta, has also denied claims that the federal government had reached a 30-day truce with militants. The group also urged Buhari to visit the country's south-east to witness the scale of damage caused by years of oil spills.

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