Kenyans in fear as Ethiopian troops invade villages

Residents of Sololo are living in fear after heavily armed Ethiopian forces crossed border to hunt down members of the outlawed Oromo Liberation Front (OLF).

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Since Tuesday, the forces have been combing the area and already, there are claims locals have been roughed up. Residents of Waye-Goda, Anona and Damballafachana (DF) are said to have suffered the wrath of the Ethiopians who allegedly beat them up and confiscated their phones. Sololo Deputy County Commissioner Raphael Muiruri told The Standard that more than 300 Ethiopia soldiers have reportedly crossed over into the district. “They (soldiers) were reported in Anona, DF and Waye-Goda. Reports suggest that the foreign security forces are hunting OLF,” he said. The administrator added: “Residents are living in fear and we are concerned as a Government.”

Three people are said to have been arrested by the forces in Damballa Fachana. Interestingly, elders and local leaders declined to comment on the matter citing fear of reprisal. They only blamed the Government of doing little to protect them. Mr Muiruri said people in the area are afraid to volunteer information adding that his office had asked for more deployment of security agencies in the region. Former Sololo chief, Galm Dabasso, identified the three arrested Kenyans from Dambala-fachana as Malicha Dadacha, Dulacha Jaldesa and Godana Galma. In Moyale, similar cases have been reported in Somare and Bori locations. Residents are complaining of high presence of Ethiopian soldiers. However, Moyale assistant deputy county commissioner, John Kipswa, denied the reports saying there are no external threats in the region. Two weeks ago, Moyale deputy Administration Police commandant, Joseph Baratore, said while on patrol his team met Ethiopian soldiers at Somare-Arbale border point.

“We met Ethiopia soldiers along the border. They were on their territory and we even had a chat and they said they were securing their territory,” he said.

Mr Baratore said the heavy presence the soldiers has raised fears among residents but maintained that Kenya forces are keeping vigil.

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