Gunmen Kill at Least 69 in Attack on Oilfield in Ethiopia

April 25th, 2007 Print Print Email Email

By Edward Cody Washington Post Foreign Service


BEIJING, April 24
– Gunmen attacked a Chinese-run oilfield in Ethiopia early Tuesday, killing at least nine Chinese and more than 60 Ethiopian workers, according to the New China News Agency. (more…)

By Edward Cody Washington Post Foreign Service


BEIJING, April 24
– Gunmen attacked a Chinese-run oilfield in Ethiopia early Tuesday, killing at least nine Chinese and more than 60 Ethiopian workers, according to the New China News Agency.

The official agency, in a dispatch it said was confirmed by the Chinese Embassy in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, reported more than 100 Ethiopian soldiers beat back the attackers in nearly an hour of shooting. The battle took place just after dawn in an oilfield at Abole, a small town the agency said lies 90 miles from Jijiga in Ethiopia’s Somali State near the border with Somalia.Xu Shuang, acting manager of the Zongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau of the China Petroleum and Chemical Corp., told the agency that, in addition to the fatalities, seven Chinese employees were believed kidnapped by the withdrawing assailants. He did not provide any casualty estimates for the Ethiopian soldiers guarding the oilfield.

Neither Xu nor the Ethiopian government immediately identified the attackers. The area, known as the Ogaden, was the site of a secessionist war by ethnic Somalis in the late 1970s. More recently, Ethiopian troops invaded Somalia earlier this year and occupied Mogadishu, the capital, in support of a U.S.-backed government that had been toppled by Islamic militia leaders.

Fighting has raged in Mogadishu in recent days between troops of the Ethiopian-installed government and a variety of militias reluctant to cede authority to the government and its Ethiopian backers.

China, which has not played a visible role in that conflict, has established oil exploration and production missions across Africa in recent years, seeking to meet a swiftly rising demand for energy in an economy that is growing more than 9 percent a year. The China Petroleum and Chemical Corp. is one of the country’s large state-owned oil firms.

There was no immediate comment from the government in Beijing.

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