ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia (AP) — Ethiopian rebels on Monday warned a Canadian oil company against oil exploration in the country's east and said the area is unsafe because of fighting.
Africa Oil Corporation should halt all operations until the rebels make peace with the government, the Ogaden National Liberation Front, or ONLF said. The group is blamed for the 2007 attack on a Chinese-run oil field in the region in which scores were killed.
The rebels said in a statement that the company is "conspiring with the government to exploit the region's oil."
"ONLF calls upon African Oil to desist from paying blood money to Ethiopia until a just settlement of the conflict is achieved and the people of the Ogaden are in a position to be masters of their wealth and interest," the statement said.
The Ethiopian government spokesman downplayed the statement saying the region is peaceful and that the rebels don't pose any real threat.
"The region is now fully stable and peaceful. The government and people are mobilizing together to develop the region," said Communications Minister Shimeles Kemal.