Militant group withdraws threat to attack Niger Delta oil industry

YENAGOA, Nigeria (Reuters) - A militant group in Nigeria’s oil-rich southern Niger Delta on Wednesday withdrew its threat to launch attacks on oil facilities from June 30.

The New Delta Avengers are apparently named in a nod to the Niger Delta Avengers who last year crippled the OPEC member’s oil production. Crude oil sales account for two-thirds of government revenue.

The attacks last year deepened a recession in Africa’s biggest economy that was largely caused by low oil prices. The government has been holding peace talks with Niger Delta communities to end the violence and there have been no major attacks this year.

In early June, the New Delta Avengers - previously unheard of - issued a statement saying they would fight for a greater share of proceeds from crude oil sales to go to the impoverished region.

But in an open letter the group withdrew its threat on Wednesday. “NDA has decided to shelve our planned attack on major oil facilities in the region from June 30, 2017,” said the group.

“We have decided to give peace a chance,” it said, stating that its decision was taken to help local community leader Edwin Clark continue negotiations and achieve a peaceful resolution.

Reporting by Tife Owolabi; Writing by Alexis Akwagyiram; Editing by Andrew Roche