ADDIS ABABA, April 24 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese embassy
in Ethiopia on Tuesday confirmed that a group of unidentified gunmen attacked a
Chinese oil company's premises early in the morning in Ethiopia's Somali state,
causing heavy casualties.
The embassy has formed an emergency team, maintaining
close contact with the Ethiopian government and military, according to the
Chinese Charge d' Affaires ad interim Zhang Yuebang.
At least nine Chinese workers were killed during the attack,
Xu Shuang, acting manager of the Chinese oil company, told Xinhua.
Another seven Chinese workers were kidnapped by the
gunmen, who also killed 65 Ethiopian employees working for the Zhongyuan
Petroleum Exploration Bureau under the China Petroleum & Chemical
Corporation, added Xu.
About 200 unidentified gunmen launched a sudden
attack at around 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday on the company's premises, which
is located in Abole, a small town about 120 km away from the state's capital
Jijiga, Xu said.
The gunmen briefly took control of the premises with
37 Chinese workers and more than 120 Ethiopian employees, after an exchange of
fire with over 100 soldiers protecting the field, Xu said. The shootout lasted
for about 50 minutes.
In an interview with Xinhua, an Ethiopian press
official said that Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi has instructed the
ministry of national defense to send immediate reinforcements to the area.