Ethiopia: 74 dead in attack on Chinese oil field

April 25, 2007 03:26


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Rebels stormed a Chinese-run oil field at dawn in eastern Ethiopia, killing 74 people, destroying the exploration facility and kidnapping seven Chinese workers in the first such attack against a foreign company in the Horn of Africa nation. Tuesday's attack by more than 200 rebel fighters lasted about an hour, and followed a warning the rebel Ogaden National Liberation Front made last year against any investment in eastern Ethiopia's Ogaden area. In recent years, the front has only made occasional hit and run attacks against government troops, making Tuesday's attack its most significant one. Formed from Ethiopia's minority Somalis, the Muslim group has combatants fighting alongside insurgents in Somalia and has fought for the secession of the Ogaden region, an area the size of Britain with 4 million people, since the early 1990s. The volatile Somali Regional State, as the Ogaden is known, "is not a safe environment for any oil exploration to occur. We urge all international oil companies to refrain from entering into agreements with the Ethiopian government," the group said in a statement sent to The Associated Press.

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