JIGJIGA (Halbeeg News) – Dozens of personnel working for oil companies operating in the Ethio-Somali Regional State following tensions over the weekend left an unknown number of civilians dead and thousands displaced.
Houses, a bank, shops, and churches have been looted and torched in Jigjiga and other small towns in the region.
Poly GCL Petroleum Investments, the Chinese company engaged in oil and gas exploration and development projects in the Ogaden basin, has evacuated its key personnel by air early this week.
According to The reporter, online media based in Addis-Ababa, the company has been transporting its key personnel mostly Chinese by chartered plane since July 29.
The Chinese petroleum experts and engineers were stationed in Hilala, Calub and Warder oil and gas projects.
Sources said the oil workers will be redeployed to the project sites once the security situation improves.
Poly GCL has been engaged in the exploration and development of oil and gas resources in the Ogaden basin since 2014. The company is in the process to develop the Calub and Hilala gas fields.
The company has discovered crude oil reserve in the Hilala locality and began test production last June. It has also discovered additional gas reserve in a locality called Dohar.
Another Chinese company, BGP Geoservices, which is contracted by Poly-GCL, has also evacuated its staff to Addis Ababa.
BGP has transported its team of Chinese petroleum experts by a chartered plane. BGP is a geophysical service company that collects, interprets and process seismic data.
Last week, Ethiopian army took over the security of the volatile eastern Somali region after heavy fighting.
The region’s president Abdi Mohamoud Omar, was forced to resign on Monday and replaced by his finance minister Mr. Ahmed Abdi Mohammed.
According to the state-owned ESTV website, Mr. Abdi was arrested and flown to the capital Addis Ababa.
Following uprisings in the region, the army and the federal police were ordered to enter the region to maintain peace at the invitation of the Somali Regional Council, the government said.
The deployment led to a standoff between the federal forces and the region’s paramilitary Liyu police and sparked protests by residents in the regional capital Jigjiga and Dire Dawa. It is reported that dozens of people died.
The properties were also looted including banks and businesses as well as targeted killings of non-Somalis, according to AFP.