Briton shot dead in Ethiopia is named

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The Independent Online

A British geologist shot dead by gunmen in Ethiopia was named today as Jason Read.

The 39-year-old was killed on Monday when his car was ambushed near Danot town in the conflict-ravaged Ogaden region in the south east of the country.

He worked for IMC Geophysics International Ltd, which was subcontracted to the Malaysian oil giant Petronas.

A company statement read: "We are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragedy and our sincere thoughts and sympathies are with Jason's family."

Mr Read, his driver and military escort were victims of an "unprovoked attack", his company said.



Authorities in Ethiopia have labelled the killing as "an act of banditry".



The TESLA-IMC International Limited statement read: "Jason was working on our crew 894 which was undertaking a seismic survey on behalf of Petronas Carigali when Jason, his driver and military escort came under unprovoked attack from armed persons unknown.



"We are deeply shocked and saddened by this tragedy and our sincere thoughts and sympathies are with Jason's family.



"A full investigation is under way and all appropriate authorities have been informed.



"He was liked and respected by all with whom he worked."



Mr Read had worked for TESLA since 2004, working in Ethiopia, Uganda and Europe.



A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm the death of a British national on April 5 near Danot town in the Warder zone of Ethiopia.



"Next of kin have been informed and we have offered the family full consular assistance.



"The Ethiopian authorities are carrying out a full inquiry and we are liaising closely with them."



Ethiopia's communication minister, Bereket Simon, said: "We have reports that the incident has occurred and is an act of banditry.



"The deceased did not take security measures and was driving alone.



"Following the act the local militia had confronted the perpetrators and had taken measures on them.



"We understand that the act was not politically motivated."



Ethiopia is not an oil producer but Chinese companies and Petronas have signed exploration deals.



The Somali-speaking Ogaden region has long been riven with fighting as separatist groups battle for independence.



Trouble flared in the mid-1990s after the Ogaden National Liberation Front (ONLF) backed the idea of splitting from Ethiopia.



The conflict has escalated recently following the ONLF's April 2007 attack on a Chinese-run oil exploration field.



Some 74 people died in the attack, including Ethiopian guards and Chinese workers.



Abdirahman Mahdi, spokesman for the Ogadeni rebels, told the Associated Press: "As far as we know, our fighters are not involved in such barbaric attacks.



"Our troops do not have permission to target foreign civilians. But we will investigate the circumstances that led to the man's death."

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