Gunmen attack Ethiopian oil field run by Chinese company

A story unfolding at press time gives a taste of that global energy-security issue everyone’s worried about: according to news reports, gunmen attacked an oil field in eastern Ethiopia run by a Chinese company, killing 65 local workers and nine Chinese workers, and taking seven Chinese hostages. Xu Shuang, acting manager of the Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau, reported that the gunmen took control of the oil field after a 50-minute shootout with 100 soldiers guarding the area. The conflict is apparently tied to Ethiopia’s military presence in neighboring Somalia, where the Ethiopian government has backed the effort to quell Islamic insurgents. But it is resource-related too: China’s growing presence in Africa on a hunt for oil and other resources is highly controversial. Last year, an Ethiopian rebel group said foreign investment in the area attacked today “would not be tolerated.” Eleven Chinese oil workers were also kidnapped in Nigeria in recent months; two remain in captivity.