Gunmen have attacked a Chinese-run oil field in eastern Ethiopia, killing 74 people.

An Ethiopian rebel group known as the Ogaden National Liberation Front claimed responsibility for the attack. It says it will not allow firms to exploit the mineral resources in the region.

Ethiopian Information Minister Berhane Hailu tells VOA the gunmen attacked and killed the workers while they were sleeping.

A manager with the Zhongyuan oil company, Xu Shuang says the majority of those killed were Ethiopian while nine victims were Chinese. He says seven Chinese were also kidnapped during the attack, which took place in the town of Abole.

Ethiopian Prime Minster Meles Zenawi called the attack an outrage and said the government will leave no stone unturned to find those responsible.

A Chinese foreign ministry spokesman said 200 gunmen took part in the attack. He said the men briefly took control of the field after exchanging fire with about 100 soldiers who were protecting it.

On its website, the Ogaden National Liberation Front describes itself as a social and political movement for ethnic Somalis in the region. It accuses successive Ethiopian governments of atrocities.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.