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Gunmen in Ethiopia kill British Oil Contractor, ONLF denied it was involved in the attack…

British National Killed in Restive Ethiopian Region:

(Bloomberg) –  A British national working for IMC Geophysics International Ltd. was killed in Ethiopia’s restive Ogaden region earlier this week, the British Embassy said.

“We can confirm a British national was killed on April 5 near Danot town in the Warder area of the Somali region,” Gavin Cook, a spokesman for the embassy, said in a phone interview today from Addis Ababa, the capital. He declined to identify the person, who he said was killed on April 5.

In April 2007, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, an ethnic Somali separatist group known as the ONLF, attacked a Chinese-run oil exploration site in the Ogaden, killing 65 Ethiopian and nine Chinese workers.

Ethiopia claimed the Ogaden region in the late 19th century through a series of agreements with Italy and the U.K., which colonized much of modern-day Somalia. Ethnic Somalis from the Ogaden clan have opposed Ethiopian rule.

The ONLF denied it was involved in the attack on the Briton.

“We are not responsible,” Abdi Rahman Abdi, a spokesman for the group, said in a phone interview today from London. “Our liberation army has got clear instructions they should not target expatriates in the Ogaden.”

 by Jason McLure

  • [N.B.: Since 2 years Briton Murray Watson is missing in Somalia after he drove into an ambush, was wounded and kidnapped. Confidential information should be sent to office(at)ecoterra-international.org ]

Gunmen in Ethiopia kill British Oil Contractor (AP)

Gunmen shot dead a Briton subcontracted to Malaysian oil company Petroliam Nasional Bhd., or Petronas, in Ethiopia’s conflict-wracked Ogaden region, officials said Friday.

The shooting happened Monday near Danod town and Ethiopian officials are carrying out a full investigation, the British Foreign Office said. The 39-year-old geologist worked for IMC Geophysics International Ltd, which is contracted to do seismic work for Petronas.

“We have reports that the incident has occurred and is an act of banditry,” said Ethiopia’s communications minister, Bereket Simon. “The deceased did not take security measures and was driving alone. Following the act the local militia had confronted the perpetrators and had taken measures on them. We understand that the act was not politically motivated.”

A London-based spokesman for the Ogadeni rebels fighting the Ethiopian government said they weren’t responsible. The Ogaden National Liberation Front attacked a Chinese-owned oil exploration field in April 2007, killing 74 people.

“As far as we know, our fighters are not involved in such barbaric attack,” said Abdirahman Mahdi. “Our troops do not have permission to target foreign civilians. But we will investigate the circumstances that led to the man’s death.”

The rebels are ethnic Somalis who have been fighting for independence since 1984. They have warned against any investment in eastern Ethiopia that could benefit the U.S.-allied government.

Ethiopia doesn’t produce oil but Chinese companies and Petronas have signed exploration deals.

Also on Friday, Mr. Bereket said that a small Ogadeni rebel group called the United Western Somali Liberation Front had agreed to lay down their arms and had been given amnesty by the government. The group last made the headlines four years ago when they mistakenly kidnapped two aid workers believing them to be oil workers. The two were freed shortly afterward.

Ethiopian rebel group ‘agrees to lay down arms’ (AFP)


A rebel group in Ethiopia’s southeastern Somali region has agreed to lay down arms after decades of guerrilla war, Communications Minister Bereket Simon announced Friday.

Leaders of the United Western Somali Liberation Front (UWSLF) had, after talks with the government, “accepted totally to abide by the constitution of Ethiopia and operate legally and abandon the armed struggle,” Bereket told a press conference.

“We expect these leaders to appear here soon to explain how they will operate in the Ethiopian legal atmosphere,” Bereket said, hailing a step that “will help the stability and peace” in the region also known as Ogaden.

Bereket said that the UWSLF was not as powerful as it had been and operated mainly from Somalia while having links to Eritrea, with which Ethiopia has had tense relations since a 1998-2000 border war.

Created in the 1970s, the UWSLF was active during the 1977-78 war for control of the Ogaden, in which Ethiopia defeated Somalia. But the rebel movement has seen many divisions and became increasingly inactive.

Asked by AFP about the conditions of the rebels’ decision, Bereket said the “government has decided to respect their right to operate in the Ethiopian legal system, to enter into more civilised and pacific politics.”

“We’ll not do accounting from the past. We’ll do a fresh start,” he added.

The UWSLF had agreed to play “the constitutional game”, which “means you recognise there will be no army apart from the EDF (Ethiopian Defence Force,” Bereket said.

He said the group was responding to change since “the overall trend in Ethiopia is positive, also in the Somali region, and the people are starting to understand the implications of this development work.”

Like the Ogaden National Liberation Front, set up in 1984 in a split with the UWSLF, the rebel group has been fighting for the independence of the Ogaden, a region rich in natural resources and peopled mainly by Somali speakers.

Source: Ecoterra


Condemnation of the Killing of A British National In Ogaden

Saturday, 10 April 2010

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) condemns the cowardly killing of a British citizen in Ogaden as reported by media outlets. The Ethiopian regime has for some time now sponsored undisciplined armed militias who routinely wreak havoc in Ogaden and are no doubt responsible for this callous act. The ONLF maintains a principled policy position against the deliberate targeting of civilians. TheEthiopian regime has clearly lost control of the local armed militias it sponsors, and ONLF strongly suspects that they have committed this act.

The ONLF believes that it is in the interest of the Ethiopian regime to create a climate of fear and insecurity in order to isolate the Ogaden from the world and keep committing war crimes without scrutiny of the international community.

The Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF)


Ethiopia, Rebels Trade Charges Over British Geologist’s Killing

by Peter Heinlein

Ethiopia’s government and a separatist group are trading accusations over the killing of a British geologist and two armed escorts in the country’s troubled Ogaden region.

Thirty-nine-year old Jason Reid and two Ethiopian military guards died when their car was attacked by gunmen last Monday in a remote part of Ethiopia’s eastern Somali region, known as the Ogaden. Reid was a geologist involved in exploring for oil in the area near the border with Somalia.

Authorities say a gun battle ensued when the victims tried to fight back. Their car, reportedly was riddled with bullets.

Government spokesman Shimelis Kemal describes the killers as ‘highwaymen’ intent on robbery. He says some of the attackers were captured. “Mr. Jason and his escorts were going to their camps after completing their day’s work. The bandits ambushed and attacked them, and the law enforcement officials made a hot pursuit and were able to apprehend three of the suspected attackers,” he said.

Ethiopian troops have been battling a long-running insurgency in the mostly ethnic-Somali region. The counterinsurgency effort was intensified in 2007, after rebels of the Ogaden National Liberation Front, or ONLF, attacked a Chinese-run oil exploration camp, killing more than 70 people.

In a statement emailed to VOA, the ONLF denies involvement in the latest attack. The statement condemned the killing as the work of local militias organized by the government to fight the insurgents.

Government spokesman Shimeles calls the ONLF accusation “an absolute lie.” “They were simply outlaws, people engaged in robbery and illicit activities,” he said.

Gavin Cook, spokesman for the British embassy in Addis Ababa, says Reid had been doing seismic surveys for a subcontractor for the giant Malaysian energy firm Petronas. Cook says it is too early to tell who might have been behind the attack or whether it was related to the insurgency. “We don’t want to speculate at the moment. There are a number of groups that operate in the region, but no one has claimed responsibility. There’s nothing to suggest as yet whether one or any of them was responsible or whether it was a random attack. But we are working with the government to try and establish more details,” he said.

The news of Reid’s death came the same day as Ethiopia announced the surrender of another rebel group in the region. A government spokesman said the little-known United Western Somalia Liberation Front, or UWSLF, had agreed to lay down arms and join the political process.

The UWSLF was a powerful force in the 1960s and ’70s, and had threatened violence against foreigners exploring for oil in the region. But it has rarely been heard from in recent years.

Their last known activity was the brief kidnapping of two Red Cross workers in 2007. The captives were released after a few days with an apology and an admission that the incident was a case of mistaken identity.

Source: Ecoterra, Apr 12, 2010

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