Tuesday, April 24, 2007


Unidentified gunmen have killed at least 74 people in an attack on an oil field in Ethiopia's remote Ogaden region, officials say.
Nine Chinese oil workers and 65 Ethiopians were killed in the incident early on Tuesday, Chinese and Ethiopian officials said.
The attack took place at an oil field in Abole, a small town about 120km from the state capital, Jijiga.
A Chinese oil worker said about 200 gunmen attacked the field.
Xu Shuang, acting manager of the Chinese company involved, said another seven Chinese workers had been abducted.
The numbers of dead were confirmed by a spokesman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi.
"It is a cold blood killing, a massacre. It is a terrorist act," the spokesman, Berekat Simon, told AFP news agency.
Fire fight
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 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.
A separatist group - the Ogaden National Liberation Front (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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