The Nation (Nairobi)

29 January 2012

Kenya: Ethiopian Rebels Blamed for Clashes

Police are blaming an Ethiopian rebel movement for clashes that have killed seven people and blocked Form One students from reporting to school.

Eastern police boss Marcus Ochola said the Oromo Liberation Front is involved in the violence that has rocked Moyale in the last four days. The clashes, said the officer, are unprecedented "in vigour and intensity."

"We are investigating whether the rebels may have crossed the border to help in the fighting because the vigour displayed indicates that it is not just ethnic fighting," he said.

Some of the battles have been fought for over 12 hours and have involved use of sophisticated weapons, leading police to believe the conflict may have been infiltrated by outsiders.

On Friday, Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh said police were investigating claims by the Gabra community that the Boranas were using Oromo fighters from Ethiopia to attack them.

Preliminary investigations have revealed that the violence is not just triggered by scarce resources. Police and ethnicity are also fanning the clashes.

Police say a disarmament exercise is to be carried out to rid the area of guns.

The violence led to the death of four people, among them two police reservists, an assistant chief and a 10 year-old boy.

Following the killings, police have arrested a senior politician in the area.

Meanwhile, more than 400 Form One students in the area might not report to school unless the violence stops.

Due to the clashes, transport in and out of the Moyale Town has been paralysed, affecting students reporting to secondary schools.

Mr Ahmed Muhidin, a parent from Moyale, complained that his daughter, who was admitted to a provincial school in Meru, has not reported because there are no vehicles plying the Moyale- Isiolo route.

"We could not even leave our house to shop for the girl," said Mr Muhidin.

Moyale boys, a designated national school has not yet reopened and schools in Arosa and Helu have also been burnt.

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