From: Biniam Haile \(SWE\) (email@example.com)
Date: Wed Jun 03 2009 - 18:02:56 EDT
Ethiopian rebels threaten foreign oil companies
By Barry Malone Barry Malone - Wed Jun 3, 2:02 pm ET
ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - An Ethiopian rebel group on Wednesday warned
international oil companies against exploring in a region of the Horn of
Africa nation where the rebels attacked a Chinese-run field in 2007
killing 74 people.
The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) -- whose hundreds of
fighters seek autonomy for the ethnically Somali Ogaden region -- said
oil firms had cleared some 1,600 square kilometers, displacing locals
and destroying vegetation.
"Certain multinational oil corporations are intent on exploiting Ogaden
fossil fuel resources in alliance with the current Ethiopian regime that
is committing genocide and war crimes in Ogaden," it said in an emailed
"Besides destroying the livelihood of the rural population in the
affected areas, these companies are filling the coffers of this regime
and financing its criminal activities in occupied Ogaden."
The group has in the past directly threatened Petronas, the Malaysian
state-owned company, which is one of more than a dozen international
explorers hunting for oil and gas in Ethiopia.
Cash-strapped Ethiopia is keen to attract foreign investors and denies
the rebels are still a threat.
Ethiopian forces launched an assault against the rebels -- who have been
fighting for more than twenty years -- after the 2007 attack on an
exploration field owned by a subsidiary of Sinopec, China's biggest
refiner and petrochemicals producer.
Addis Ababa now says the ONLF has been defeated.
The rebel statement said any firm working in the region would be
considered complicit in crimes by Ethiopia's military.
"In order to accommodate these immoral and gluttonous rushes for oil in
Ogaden, Ethiopia killed, raped and illegally detained thousands of
Ogaden civilian and imposed economic and aid blockade at a time of when
there was a full-blown drought in the Ogaden," it said.
"ONLF has persistently warned these unscrupulous multinational companies
and their governments ... the ONLF has been left no alternative but to
take all measures necessary to protect the inalienable rights of the
Ethiopian officials deny rights abuses in the Ogaden region, saying the
rebels are the ones perpetrating crimes there on locals.
(Editing by Matthew Jones)
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