Ethiopia's Prime Minister Meles
Zenawi speaks during a news conference in Addis Ababa April 24, 2007.
Gunmen killed 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese in their sleep on Tuesday in
a pre-dawn raid on an oil field that Ethiopia blamed on rebels backed by
regional foe Eritrea. [Reuters]
Nine Chinese workers were killed on Tuesday in an attack by armed men on an
oil field in eastern Ethiopia, a Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said Tuesday
in Beijing, strongly condemning the atrocity of armed attacks.
65 Ethiopian employees were also killed in the attack in eastern Ethiopia, a
spokesman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said.
the spokesman, said seven more Chinese workers were abducted in the attack, and
one was slightly injured.
Liu said China strongly condemns such an atrocity of armed attacks, and
expresses condolence to the victims in the attack, according to a statement
posted on the ministry's website (www.fmprc.gov.cn).
the Chinese side has requested the Ethiopian side to make every effort to ensure
the safe release of the kidnapped Chinese workers and to take effective measures
to guarantee the safety of the staffs with Chinese organizations in Ethiopia. He
said the Ethiopia has sent army forces to the place where the attack happened.
The Chinese oil company chartered a plane to collect the bodies of the
nine dead workers, Xinhua said.
"It is a massacre. It is a terrorist act, ordered by a terrorist alliance
that includes ONLF," said the Ethiopian prime minister's spokesman Berekat
Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi also condemned the slayings.
"It is an outrage," he said at a news conference. "I can assure you that
those responsible for this act will pay in full for what they did."
200 unidentified gunmen launched an attack on the oil field in Somali state
where China's Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau was exploring for oil.
According to news agencies, 65 Ethiopian employees were also killed in the
attack in eastern Ethiopia, a spokesman for Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles
The attackers engaged more than 100 soldiers protecting the field in a fierce
50 minute gun battle.
The oil field is located in Abole, a small town about 120 kilometres (75
miles) away from the Somali state capital of Jijiga, it said.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front, a separatist rebel group which is
fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia's eastern Ogaden
region, has claimed responsibility for Tuesday's predawn raid.
The ONLF claimed responsibility in a statement on its website in which it
said it had completely destroyed the oil facility.
"We urge all international oil companies to refrain from entering into
agreements with the Ethiopian government as it is not in effective control of
the Ogaden despite the claims it makes," the statement said.
In a separate email sent to AFP, the group said nearly 400 Ethiopian troops
had been wounded or killed in the attack. It blamed "explosions caused by
munitions during the battle for the deaths of a handful of Chinese oil workers".
The group said it was holding six Chinese workers, while Chinese and
Ethiopian officials said seven Chinese were being held.
"They have been removed from the battlefield for their own safety and are
being treated well," the ONLF said.
The attack was the first on an Ethiopian oil field since the ONLF issued a
threat to foreign companies operating in the eastern region one year
In Nigeria, armed militants seeking a greater share of that
country's oil wealth kidnapped nine Chinese oil workers in January, who were
later freed. And two more Chinese workers were kidnapped in March, and their
fate is still unknown.
Also in March in Nigeria, five Chinese telecommunications workers were
abducted for two weeks.