By ALLI ABDI and LIBAN GOLICHA
MARSABIT (The Standard) : The Kenya Defence Force (KDF) has moved its armoured vehicles and tanks from the Odha Military Camp in Moyale to Sololo following an invasion by Ethiopian forces who killed three police officers.
The development last evening follows a fierce gun battle earlier in the day between Kenya police and Ethiopian forces at Anona and parts of Sololo Township in Kenyan territory. Marsabit County Police Commander Bernard Kogo said three Kenyan security officers were killed but declined to reveal the casualty on the Ethiopian side. “We lost three officers at the border (Sololo) and I do not know what happened on their (Ethiopian) side,” said Mr Kogo.
On Thursday, a senior provincial administrator identified a senior chief who was gunned down by allegedly rebels from the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF). Ethiopia is fighting the rag-tag OLF rebels in Ethiopia and parts of Marsabit County that it claims hosts their rivals.
OLF is opposed to Ethiopia’s ruling regime and claims it has marginalised the majority of Oromia-speaking people who include the Borana, also found in Kenya.
At dawn Friday, Ethiopian forces in full military attire invaded villages in Sololo District where locals led by area MP Roba Duba said at least 24 Kenyans were abducted.
“Eleven people were rounded up and taken away by Ethiopian soldiers. Before that they beat up everyone in their sight with gun butts, kicks and blows,’’ said Adan Jirma, a resident of Sololo South.
At around midday Friday, Ethiopians soldiers made a second invasion in the two centres while backed by armoured vehicles. This prompted administration and regular police, backed by Kenya police reservists, to engage the foreign army in a shootout.
As the gun battle between the two sides raged up to about 4pm Friday, KDF’s army multi-unit detachment from Odha in Moyale, about 100km away, rolled its armoured cars and tanks that were deployed at the border, stretching a distance of about 15km.
Sololo OCPD Benjamin Mwanzia said the military had been deployed to guard against further incursion but declined to give details.
National Hospital Insurance Fund Chairman Mohamud Ali called on the Kenya Government to protest what he called frequent invasion by Ethiopian forces into Kenyan territory. “We are a sovereign state and this (invasion) is bad because Ethiopia is considered a friendly neighbour. It is high time our government sends a strong signal to them,” said Ali. Mid this year, Ethiopian forces invaded Kenyan territory on three occasions — at Illeret, Sololo and Moyale.