Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Ethiopia attack 'leaves 74 dead'

Unidentified gunmen have killed at least 74 people in an attack on an oil field in Ethiopia's Ogaden region, the adviser to Minister Meles Zenawi, told AFP news agency..

Sixty-five Ethiopians and nine Chinese oil workers were killed in the incident early on Tuesday, an adviser to the prime minister told the BBC.

Besides those killed, seven Chinese workers were taken captive, he said.
The attack took place at an oil field in Abole, a small town about 120km from the state capital, Jijiga.

He accused the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), of being behind the attack.
There was no word from the group.

Fire fight

A Chinese oil worker said about 200 gunmen attacked the field.

The workers were employed by the Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, part of China Petroleum and Chemical Corporation, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

Gunmen briefly took control of the field after a 50-minute fire fight with more than 100 soldiers protecting it, Mr Xu told the agency.

In recent years, China has been working to increase its influence and investment in Africa as it looks to secure energy supplies for the future.

No group has yet said it carried out the attack but the area is known for its often violent clan politics, the BBC's Amber Henshaw reports from Addis Ababa.

The ONLF has in the past made threats against foreign companies working with the Ethiopian government to exploit the region's natural resources.

The ONLF has been waging a low-level insurgency with the aim of breaking away from Ethiopia.

The incident will also step up tensions in the region which borders Somalia - where there are often clashes between Ethiopian troops and Islamists, our correspondent adds.



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