ADDIS ABABA, April 24: Scores of gunmen attacked a Chinese-run oil field in a remote area of Ethiopia on Tuesday killing 74 people, including nine Chinese, a government spokesman said.

Seven Chinese workers were also kidnapped in the attack which the government blamed on a separatist group, said Ethiopian prime minister's spokesman, Berekat Simon.

“It is a massacre. It is a terrorist act, ordered by a terrorist alliance that includes ONLF,” said Simon, referring to the Ogaden National Liberation Front.

Around 200 unidentified gunmen attacked the oil field in Somali state where China's Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau is searching for oil, according to a company manager quoted by China's official Xinhua news agency.

More than 100 soldiers protecting the field engaged the attackers in a fierce 50-minute gun battle, said the manager, Xu Shuang.

A spokesman for the Chinese embassy in Addis Ababa confirmed the attack but would give no further details. China has invested massively in oil exploration across Africa to feed its growing economy.

The Ethiopian government spokesman said some Ethiopians may also have been kidnapped during the assault on the oil field at Abole, a small town about 120 km (75 miles) from the Somali state capital of Jijiga.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) is a rebel group fighting for the independence of ethnic Somalis in Ethiopia's Ogaden region.

In April last year the group warned international oil firms that exploring for oil and natural gas in the region “for the benefit of the Ethiopian regime or any foreign firm will not be tolerated”.

The ONLF was formed in 1984. It states that the Ogaden people have been marginalised and brutalised by the Ethiopian government.—AFP

Opinion

Editorial

Olympics contingent
21 Jul, 2024

Olympics contingent

FROM 10 in Tokyo the last time, it is now down to seven in Paris, and split across just three disciplines. When...
Grave concerns
21 Jul, 2024

Grave concerns

PUNJAB Chief Minister Maryam Nawaz’s open assault on the Supreme Court for ruling in favour of the PTI in the...
Civil unrest
Updated 21 Jul, 2024

Civil unrest

The government must start putting out fires instead of fanning more flames.
Royal tantrum
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Royal tantrum

The PML-N's confrontational stance and overt refusal to respect courts orders on arguably flimsy pretexts is a dangerous sign.
Bangladesh chaos
Updated 20 Jul, 2024

Bangladesh chaos

The unfortunate events playing out in Bangladesh should serve as a warning sign for other South Asian states.
Fitch’s estimate
20 Jul, 2024

Fitch’s estimate

FITCH seems to be more optimistic about Pakistan accelerating its economic growth rate to 3.2pc during this fiscal...