On Saturday (May 15), the Ethiopian terrorist group Oromo Liberation Army (OLA) issued a statement acknowledging that it had detained three Chinese nationals working in mining operations there, but had not yet made any further specific demands. In response to media inquiries, the Chinese embassy in Ethiopia said the situation was still being verified.
The Addis Standard, a local Ethiopian media outlet, reported on 15 May that the country’s OLA organization had released a statement through several media outlets announcing that it had detained three Chinese nationals involved in mining operations in the West Wollega region. The statement did not specify when and where the three Chinese nationals were detained, nor did it reveal their names or the mining company they belonged to, but referred to them as “Mr. Huang, Mr. He and Mr. Wang,” and attached a photo of the three men together, saying they were currently safe.
On the same day, OLA spokesperson Odaa Tarbii posted on his Twitter account that the organization was detaining the three Chinese because of “the high environmental impact of these mining operations. The statement also stressed that OLA does not recognize the mining permits granted to the companies by the Ethiopian government.
Some mainland Chinese media learned of the above information and checked with the Chinese Embassy in Ethiopia on the 16th to confirm the authenticity of the information, but the staff of the Embassy’s Overseas Chinese Affairs Office replied that they “have learned about this matter from the Internet,” but the situation is still being verified and no more information is available for the time being.
According to public information, the so-called OLA group, also known as the Oromo Liberation Front/Shene (OLF/Shene), is an armed group that split from the Oromo Liberation Front (ONLF). The group’s most recent attack on civilians occurred on April 30, killing 15 civilians on a coach.
On May 6 of this year, the Ethiopian Council of Ministers unanimously passed a bill that characterizes the OLF/Shene and another armed group called the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) as terrorist organizations.
In fact, as early as April 24, 2007, the predecessor of OLA, ONLF, attacked the Sinopec Sinopec Ethiopian Company camp in the small town of Abola in the Somali region of eastern Ethiopia, killing nine Chinese workers and abducting seven others, and looting the camp of all the equipment it could carry. They also smashed the computers and generators that they could not take away.
The group eventually released the seven Chinese hostages on April 30 after negotiations between local Somali elders and the International Committee of the Red Cross, but none of the parties involved disclosed the details of the compromise terms negotiated between the two sides.