Ethiopiaâ?s separatist movement, the Ogaden Nati onal Liberation Front (ONLF), said on Sunday that it had seized control of a gas
field in the Somali region after government forces abandoned the field, 1,200 ki l ometres outside capital, Addis Ababa.
ONFL said in a statement obtained on Sunday that their forces entered the Hilala region and seized control of the oil fields after the Ethiopian troops guarding the region left.
â?Special forces of the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) yesterday liberated and are now in control of the Hilala oil field in Eastern Ogaden. Troops of the regime abandoned the field after being surrounded by our forces and determining their chances of survival was slim,â? ONLF said in the statement.
Malaysian firm, Petronas, has been exploring for oil and gas in the Ogaden region, believed to have the highest potential for oil in Ethiopia. The Malaysian firm secured the oil field after paying US$80 million to Ethiopiaâ?s Mines and Energy Ministry in 2009.
The rebel forces’ victory claim could not be independently verified.
Ethiopiaâ?s government spokesman Shimeles Kemal could not be reached to verify comments on the rebel claims that they had assumed control of the oil fie ld.
Prime Minister Meles Zenawi said this week he expected to enter into an agreement with the ONLF soon, marking the end of â?illegal oppositionâ? to the Ethiopian government.
Petronas is reported to have abandoned the site in Hilala days back.