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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protestors in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital More

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

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid