News / Africa

    Ethiopian Forces, Rebels Clash in Ogaden Oil Exploration Region

    This map of the area where clashes took place was sent as part of a communique issued by ONLF rebels announcing the clash, September 2, 2011.
    This map of the area where clashes took place was sent as part of a communique issued by ONLF rebels announcing the clash, September 2, 2011.

    Ethiopia and rebels in the restive Ogaden region have confirmed a deadly clash this week in an area where a Chinese firm is exploring for oil. Each of the two side's respective versions of the event differ sharply.

    Details provided by both the Ethiopian government and rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Force [ONLF] are sketchy.

    But they agree that clashes took place this week in Ethiopia’s Somali region, between the main city, Jijiga, and the town of Degehabur, 150 kilometers to the south. The area is about 500 kilometers east of Addis Ababa, where the Chinese firm PetroTrans is exploring for oil.

    ONLF communiqué

    An ONLF communiqué received by email Friday said 25 soldiers from an elite Ethiopian army brigade had been killed, along with a few rebel fighters in a battle last Tuesday. The statement said the army units had been escorting a PetroTrans exploration team, and had been “dislodging farmers from their lands” on the pretext that their farms were located on a seismic fault line.

    The ONLF email alleged that the Chinese workers embedded with the army were wearing army camouflage uniforms, jeopardizing their rights as unarmed civilians stipulated in the Geneva Convention.

    Ethiopian government spokesman Shimeles Kemal ridiculed the ONLF claim. In a telephone interview, he said rebels had attacked what he called “civilian targets,” but had been rebuffed by local militia, suffering heavy casualties.

    Contradictory version of events

    "It’s the usual lie, the usual fabrication by the ONLF propaganda machinery. There was no attack against Ethiopian soldiers that allegedly accompanied the Chinese oil exploration company," said Shimeles. "What happened was, a bunch of ONLF rebel forces had tried to launch an attack against civilian targets. The local militia had ambushed and preempted their attack, and in the ensuing conflict, 11 members of ONLF were killed there and then."

    Shimeles confirmed that oil exploration is in progress in the region, but denied there had been any attacks on oil workers or their facilities.

    "There are some oil exploration companies, particularly PetroTrans oil exploration company, which undertakes an exploration of oil in the area, and this company has undertaken its activities, and so far there has been no incident, no attack on it. They are undertaking their operation peacefully.

    Conflicted oil region

    The ONLF has been fighting for self-determination for the Ogaden since the 1970s, and is listed by Ethiopia as a terrorist organization.

    In 2007, the group attacked a Chinese-owned exploration facility, killing 65 Ethiopians and nine Chinese workers. That attack prompted the Addis Ababa government to intensify its anti-insurgency campaign in the region.

    The Ogaden has since been largely off limits to foreigners. The International Committee of the Red Cross was expelled from the region by the Ethiopian government in 2008 after being accused of providing aid to the rebels.

    Two Swedish journalists were arrested in the Ogaden in July after being injured in a battle between pro-government forces and ONLF rebels. The pair remain in jail, and have a court date next week.

    You May Like

    Chechen Suspected in Istanbul Attack, but Questions Remain

    Turkish sources say North Caucasus militants involved in bombing at Ataturk airport, but name of at least one alleged attacker raises doubts

    With Johnson Out, Can a New ‘Margaret Thatcher’ Save Britain?

    Contest to replace David Cameron as Britain’s prime minister started in earnest Thursday with top candidates outlining strategy to deal with Brexit fallout

    US Finds Progress Slow Against Human Trafficking in Africa

    Africa continues to be a major source and destination for human trafficking of all kinds -- from forced labor to sexual slavery, says State Department report

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Eitheri
    X
    Jim Malone
    June 29, 2016 6:16 PM
    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Clinton Leads Trump, But Many Voters Don't Like Either

    In the U.S. presidential race, most recent polls show Democrat Hillary Clinton with a steady lead over Republican Donald Trump as both presumptive party nominees prepare for their party conventions next month. Trump’s disapproval ratings have risen in some recent surveys, but Clinton also suffers from high negative ratings, suggesting both candidates have a lot of work to do to improve their images before the November election. VOA National correspondent Jim Malone has more from Washington.
    Video

    Video Slow Rebuilding Amid Boko Haram Destruction in Nigeria’s Northeast

    Military operations have chased Boko Haram out of towns and cities in Nigeria’s northeast since early last year. But it is only recently that people have begun returning to their homes in Adamawa state, near the border with Cameroon, to try to rebuild their lives. For VOA, Chris Stein traveled to the area and has this report.
    Video

    Video New US Ambassador to Somalia Faces Heavy Challenges

    The new U.S. envoy to Somalia, who was sworn into office Monday, will be the first American ambassador to that nation in 25 years. He will take up his post as Somalia faces a number of crucial issues, including insecurity, an upcoming election, and the potential closure of the Dadaab refugee camp in Kenya. VOA’s Jill Craig asked Somalis living in Kenya’s capital city Nairobi how they feel about the U.S. finally installing a new ambassador.
    Video

    Video At National Zoo, Captivating Animal Sculptures Illustrate Tragedy of Ocean Pollution

    The National Zoo in Washington, D.C., is home to about 1,800 animals, representing 300 species. But throughout the summer, visitors can also see other kinds of creatures there. They are larger-than-life animal sculptures that speak volumes about a global issue — the massive plastic pollution in our oceans. VOA's June Soh takes us to the zoo's special exhibit, called Washed Ashore: Art to Save the Sea.
    Video

    Video Baghdad Bikers Defy War with a Roar

    Baghdad is a city of contradictions. War is a constant. Explosions and kidnappings are part of daily life. But the Iraqi capital remains a thriving city, even if a little beat up. VOA's Sharon Behn reports on how some in Baghdad are defying the stereotype of a nation at war by pursuing a lifestyle known for its iconic symbols of rebellion: motorbikes, leather jackets and roaring engines.
    Video

    Video Melting Pot of Immigrants Working to Restore US Capitol Dome

    The American Iron Works company is one of the firms working to renovate the iconic U.S. Capitol Dome. The company employs immigrants of many different cultural and national backgrounds. VOA’s Arman Tarjimanyan has more.
    Video

    Video Testing Bamboo as Building Material

    For thousands of years various species of bamboo - one of the world's most versatile plants - have been used for diverse purposes ranging from food and medicine to textiles and construction. But its use on a large scale is hampered because it's not manufactured to specific standards but grown in the ground. A University of Pittsburgh professor is on track to changing that. VOA’s George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Orphanage in Iraqi City Houses Kids Who Lost their Parents to Attacks by IS

    An orphanage in Iraqi Kurdistan has become home to scores of Yazidi children who lost their parents after Islamic State militants took over Sinjar in Iraq’s Nineveh Province in 2014. Iraqi Kurdish forces backed by the U.S. airstrikes have since recaptured Sinjar but the need for the care provided by the orphanage continues. VOA’s Kawa Omar filed this report narrated by Rob Raffaele.
    Video

    Video Re-Opening Old Wounds in a Bullet-Riddled Cultural Landmark

    A cultural landmark before Lebanon’s civil war transformed it into a nest of snipers, Beirut’s ‘Yellow House’ is once again set to play a crucial role in the city.  Built in a neo-Ottoman style in the 1920s, in September it is set to be re-opened as a ‘memory museum’ - its bullet-riddled walls and bunkered positions overlooking the city’s notorious ‘Green Line’ maintained for posterity. John Owens reports from Beirut.
    Video

    Video Brexit Resounds in US Presidential Contest

    Britain’s decision to leave the European Union is resounding in America’s presidential race. As VOA’s Michael Bowman reports, Republican presumptive nominee Donald Trump sees Britain’s move as an affirmation of his campaign’s core messages, while Democrat Hillary Clinton sees the episode as further evidence that Trump is unfit to be president.
    Video

    Video NASA Juno Spacecraft, Nearing Jupiter, to Shed Light on Gas Giant

    After a five-year journey, the spacecraft Juno is nearing its destination, the giant planet Jupiter, where it will enter orbit and start sending data back July 4th. As Mike O'Sullivan reports from Pasadena, California, the craft will pierce the veil of Jupiter's dense cloud cover to reveal its mysteries.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora