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Somali conflict crosses borders

Ethiopia accuses neighbors of supporting an ethnic Somali rebel group that attacked a Chinese-run oil installation this week, killing 74 people.

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As the initial shock of this week's rebel raid on a Chinese oil installation in Ethiopia begins to fade, there is a growing realization that Somalia's increasingly brutal insurgency is starting to seep across the Horn of Africa.

Tuesday's early morning raid in Ethiopia's remote southeast Ogaden region near the border with Somalia, left 74 people dead, including nine Chinese oil workers.

Ethiopian analysts say the unprecedented scale of the attack, claimed by the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF), suggested it could only have been carried out with support from Islamists in neighboring Somalia, who were routed by Ethiopian forces in a two-week, Christmas-time invasion. Some analysts see this as an indication that the battle for control of Somalia's capital, Mogadishu is becoming a regional conflict.

Mohamed Guyo, an analyst with the Institute of Security Studies in Nairobi, Kenya, says there is a close relationship between Somalia's Islamists and several rebel groups in Ethiopia.

He says he expects to see more attacks mounted on Ethiopia as insurgents in Mogadishu look for allies in their struggle against occupying Ethiopian forces.

"The [ONLF's] enemy is the Ethiopian government and the enemy of [Somalia's Islamists] is the Ethiopian government, so there has been a lot of sharing of resources not just in terms of arms and ammunition, but other things such as sharing media and diplomatic facilities," he says.

Hunt for the attackers

Ethiopian troops began scouring the area around the oil field Wednesday searching for seven oil workers abducted by the rebels.

Witnesses said some 200 gunmen stormed the facility before dawn, killing nine Chinese oil workers and 65 Ethiopians.

The clashes took place in Abole, a small town about 75 miles from the regional capital, Jijiga.

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