(Xinhua) More than 300 heavily armed Ethiopian militia have killed two Kenyan security officers and wounded five others in an ambush at a remote police camp near the border with Kenya, authorities confirmed on Tuesday.
Kenya’s District Commissioner Albert Mwilitsa said the suspected militia from Merille tribe in Ethiopia stormed an Administration Police(AP)’s Rapid Police Unit camp late on Monday in Turkana’s Todonyang area where they shot dead the officers.
“The over 300 heavily armed Merille militia from Ethiopian raided the Administration Police camp in Todonyang area of Turkana County and engaged the officers in fire fight. Two APs were killed, one officer is still missing and five were wounded in the fight,” Mwilitsa told Xinhua at the scene.
“We have launched investigations to establish the motive behind the raid and also to find the missing Administration Police officer. The five injured will also be airlifted to Nairobi for specialized treatment,” the administrator said.
Reports of the ambush has sparked tension in the area with some residents said to be planning a revenge attack. The police helicopter is currently combing the area to arrest the militia.
The raid is the latest in attacks that have pitted communities in the area which falls within the Elemi Triable �C the once disputed triangular border area between Kenya, South Sudan and Ethiopia �C and residents said the area has known no peace.
The region has been home to protracted and intermitted cattle rustling with many people killed, maimed and much property lost in the recent past.
Apart from being the gateway to an area of South Sudan rich in unexpected oil reserves, Elemi is only significant for its dry season pastures that support the Turkana, Didinga, Toposa, Inyangatom and Dassanech (Mericlle) communities, largely known as the Karamoja cluster groups of Kenya, Uganda, Ethiopia.
Deadly clashes between the Turkana and the Merille communities in the past were mainly related to cross border cattle raids.
Despite the animosity generated by cattle rustling, the two communities had until the latest attack engaged in barter trade and purchasing of food from markets on both sides of the border.
Livestock herding is the main livelihood and source of income in northern and some parts of eastern Kenya, and the hike in cattle thefts threatens to ignite cross-community reprisals and raids that could set the stage for a surge in ethnic fighting in the region.
Armed cattle rustling conflicts between the Turkana of Kenya and Ethiopia’s Merille have dominated headlines of the Elmi Triangle.