9 Chinese among 74 killed in Ethiopia
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
There is no continent on the face of this earth more intractably screwed-up than Africa. One feels sorry for those unfortunate to have been born on that God forsaken land. Some of my earliest recollections of childhood are of following the news that French troops were moving upriver to restore order in the Belgian Congo. Looking at a childhood atlas is a reminder of the instability of countries in the dark continent and one wonders how an international corporation makes the decision that an investment in Africa is worth the risk. (Googling "Africa killings" returns 1.3 million hits.)
I recently asked a computer geek gen-xer if he knew where Rhodesia was. He had no idea and no idea who Cecil Rhodes was, (but that's a different topic.)
The point is, yesterday in the oil fields of Ethiopia, one group of men, 200 or so strong, went on a killing rampage and another 74 people died. This time 9 Chinese were included in the victims. To my knowledge, China does not have a great deal of experience with workers abroad. I do know that to many Chinese people, pride, especially nationalistic pride is important. It is very important to them that they not be seen as "soft." At least that's the impression the Chinese have been cultivating especially since we accidentally bombed their embassy in another place that's disappeared from maps, Yugoslavia. Let's see if the "Chinese street"gets upset about this incident.
The Chinese have condemned the atrocity and the Ethiopian Prime Minister has has vowed "those responsible for this act will pay in full for what they did." I don't expect much, after all, what's are 63 Somalis and 9 Chinese worth?
China is a young man abroad and will learn to balance the demands of its people with the needs of its economy. A life here and there is the price you pay when you are out in the cruel world, especially in backwards, tribal Africa.