Ethiopia rebels free Chinese oil workers
ADDIS ABABA, April 29 (Reuters) – Ethiopian rebels have released seven Chinese workers seized in a deadly raid on an oilfield, the guerrillas and a spokesman for the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said on Sunday.
Gunmen killed 65 Ethiopians and nine other Chinese in Tuesday’s pre-dawn assault on the oil exploration field in Ethiopia’s barren eastern Ogaden region — one of the worst attacks to date on Beijing’s growing interests in Africa. “We handed them over to the ICRC,” Adurahmin Mohammed Mahdi, a London-based spokesman for the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) rebels told Reuters by telephone. “They are all very healthy. They are uninjured and very happy.”
An ICRC spokesman in Addis Ababa confirmed the news, and said the freed men were on their way to the regional capital.
“I can confirm that they have been released. They are on their way to Jijiga,” the spokesman told reporters. “I don’t know if they have got there yet. They are all civilians.”
The ONLF have repeatedly warned investors they will not allow oil and gas exploration in Ogaden as long as local people were “denied their rights to self-determination”.
The Chinese staff worked for Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, part of the much larger Sinopec, China’s biggest refiner and petrochemicals producer.