Ogaden National Liberation Front guerillas stormed a Chinese-run oil field at dawn April 24 in eastern Ethiopia, killing 74 workers, abducting seven others and destroying the facility, the guerrilla group and government officials said. The rebel group claimed responsibility for the attack in a statement sent to the AP, saying it had launched “military operations against units of the Ethiopian armed forces guarding an oil exploration site.” The statement boasted the rebels had “wiped out” three Ethiopian military units. It warned all international oil companies not to operate in the region.
China’s official Xinhua News Agency identified the Chinese workers and Ethiopian guards as employees of the Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, a division of China Petroleum & Chemical Corp., a huge state-run oil company better known as Sinopec.
Said Bereket Simon, a special adviser to the Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi: “The army is pursuing them. We will track them down dead or alive. We will make sure these people will be hunted and be brought to justice.”
The Ogaden National Liberation Front is seeking a unified Ogaden ethnic homeland, now divided between Ethiopia and Somalia. Ethiopia accuses regional rival Eritrea of backing the group, a charge denied by Eritrea. (AP, April 24)