Addis Ababa, Ethiopia: Unidentified gunmen attacked a Chinese oil company’s field in eastern Ethiopia early on 24 April 2007. Company official says nine Chinese workers and 65 Ethiopians were killed in attack. Seven Chinese workers were also kidnapped.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack on the oil field, located in the disputed Somali Regional State, also known as the Ogadan region, bordering Somalia.
Ethiopian government officials were not immediately available for comment.
China has increased its presence in Africa in recent years in a hunt for oil and other natural resources to feed its rapidly growing economy.
Its forays into areas considered politically unstable, however, has exposed Chinese workers to attacks.
An Ethiopian rebel group issued a warning last year that any investment in the Ogadan area that also benefited the Ethiopian government “would not be tolerated.”
The Ogaden National Liberation Front has been waging a low-level insurgency with the aim of creating an independent state for ethnic Somalis. Somalia lost control of the region in a war in 1977.
In Nigeria, armed militants seeking a greater share of that country’s oil wealth kidnapped nine Chinese oil workers in January, and two more in March. Two were still being held, though hostages are normally released unharmed in Nigeria, after a ransom is paid.
Also in March in Nigeria, five Chinese telecommunications workers were abducted for two weeks.