Nairobi is currently in talks with Addis Ababa after nine Kenyans were reportedly abducted by Ethiopian authorities in Moyale border town for harbouring rebels.
Moyale Deputy County Commissioner William Ole Kakimon explained that the nine were taken hostage on Tuesday by the Ethiopian Federal Police (EFP) for allegedly providing refuge Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) rebels.
It was not immediately clear when the said rebels sought refuge in Moyale on the Kenyan side of the border.
The reported incident took place yesterday at dawn after fierce shoot-out between the EFP and the OLF at Somare location in Moyale Sub-county leaving scores of people injured in the melee.
Mr Kakimon administrator said that KDF arrived at the area at 5am and calm has since been restored.
The KDF liason office is expected to address a press conference today (Wednesday) about the progress of the diplomatic talks.
“The nine Kenyans have been held hostage by the Ethiopian authorities for allegedly harboring the OLF fighters and scores of others injured during a shoot out between EFP and OLF. Calm has been restored in the area,” Mr Kakimon said.
He added that nine motorcycles allegedly used to ferry the rebels were also taken away by the EPF.
Early this month, Ethiopia stepped up military activities in its Tigray region after accusing the region’s ruling party of attacking a government defense post and trying to steal artillery and military equipment.
This has exacerbated ethnic divisions in the country.
Last week, Kenyan authorities beefed up security at the border with Ethiopia amid fears of escalating tensions in that government’s fight against the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF).
They said, however, that the conflict has not had any serious security or economic impact on Kenya.
Ethiopia’s Deputy Prime Minister Demeke Mekonnen was also in the country last week to brief President Uhuru Kenyatta on the law enforcement operation in the northern Tigray region.
Mr Kenyatta urged parties to the ongoing internal conflict in Ethiopia to find peaceful means to end the crisis.
The President cautioned against a full blown conflict in the country saying Kenya and Ethiopia have for long served as anchor states for regional peace and stability.
He urged the Federal Government and the Tigrayan People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) to de-escalate the conflict saying the crisis risks eroding gains made by Ethiopians in developing their country.
Mr Kakimon, said the government had secured hundreds of millions of dollars in revenue at the Moyale One-Stop-Border Point (OSBP), where trade has continued.
“So far, there have not been any negative impacts of the political unrest in Ethiopia along the Ethiopia-Kenya border, except for the change of tact among immigrants who use undesignated routes into Kenya,” Mr Kakimon said.
While there has been tension at the border, the influx of immigrants has continued to be a menace, with administrators lacking lasting solutions.
Last week alone, more than six people were arrested while trying to cross into Kenya.
This is not the first time outbreaks of violence in Ethiopia are spilling into Kenya. In 2018, nearly 5,000 people fled to Kenya from the Ethiopian border town of Moyale after the weekend shooting of nine civilians by troops.