The Nigerian military Sunday denied claims that a militant group had killed 29 soldiers in the oil-rich Niger Delta, the dpa reported.
"Between last Sunday and today, we have not had any encounters with militant groups in any part of the Niger Delta," Lieutenant-Colonel Sagir Musa, an army spokesman in Rivers State, said. "It is all propaganda, total falsehood."
The Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta (MEND) said Saturday that it had killed the soldiers in Bayelsa, Delta and Rivers states in "three separate coordinated attacks."
MEND spokesman Jomo Gbomo said in a statement that the attacks on Saturday evening were in reprisal for killing of civilians in the Niger Delta by the Joint Task Force.
The Joint Task Force comprises specially selected troops deployed in the region to provide security for oil and gas installations, and expatriate workers in particular.
Gbomo said that militants used fast attack speedboats, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades and Soviet-era anti-tank missiles during the attacks.
Six rebels were also killing in the fighting, Gbomo said.
He asked journalists to visit the sites of the attacks as soon as possible to verify the claims before the military cleared away the wreckage.
Militant groups in the oil-rich Niger Delta regularly kidnap oil and construction workers and attack oil facilities.
They say they are pushing for a greater say in the exploitation of oil and gas resources in the region for the poor local population.
Nigeria's government says the militants are merely criminal gangs intent on extorting money and stealing oil.
The unrest has cut oil-production by around a fifth since early 2006, helping to push up global oil prices and allowing Angola to surpass Nigeria as Africa's biggest oil exporter.