Nigerian troops have killed eight suspected militants near an Italian-operated oil field in the Niger Delta.

The killings happened in Bayelsa state on Tuesday just after militant groups released 19 hostages as part of a nascent peace initiative between the government and the rebel groups.

“They attacked our troops guarding an Agip flow station at Ogbainbiri and in the encounter they sustained casualties, about eight men,” said a spokesman for the military in the region, Omale Ochagwuba.

Oil output from the Ogbainbiri field, which feeds the Brass export terminal also in Bayelsa state, was unaffected, a spokesperson for the unit of Italian oil company ENI said.