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Chinese foreign ministry confirms release of 7 kidnapped workers in Ethiopia
1/5/2007 10:03

Seven Chinese workers, kidnapped last Tuesday in an attack on a Chinese oil company in Ethiopia, have been released, Chinese Foreign Ministry confirmed yesterday in a press release.

Survivors of the same attack as well as the bodies of nine victims were flown back to their hometown, central China's Henan Province, by a chartered plane on the same day, said the press release.

Immediately after the incident, the Chinese government set up and sent to Ethiopia an emergency group comprising officials from the Foreign Affairs Ministry, Commerce Ministry and the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation to organize the rescue work, said the ministry.

The Chinese government expressed gratitude to the Ethiopian government, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and other related sides for their efforts to rescue the seven kidnapped Chinese workers, it added.

Extending greetings to the rescued workers, the ministry also called on overseas Chinese enterprises to fully estimate the risks and intensify their security measures.

At around 6 a.m. local time on Tuesday, about 200 gunmen launched a sudden attack on the premises of the Zhongyuan Petroleum Exploration Bureau under the China Petroleum & Chemical Corporation, located in Abole, a small town about 120 km away from Jijiga, capital of Ethiopia's eastern Somali state.

Nine Chinese workers were killed in the attack and seven others were kidnapped by the gunmen, who also killed 65 Ethiopian employees working for the oil company.

Later on Tuesday in a statement, the rebel group Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) claimed responsibility for the attack, saying their targets were Ethiopian soldiers guarding the premises.

After days of rescue efforts, the Ethiopia government and the ICRC informed the Chinese side on Sunday that the seven kidnapped workers had been released and were under protection of the Ethiopian government.