BY STEVE NJUGUNA
A 50 strong force of Ethiopian soldiers have stormed a police station in North Horr (Kenya) armed with assault rifles and laid siege to the under-defended area for hours before taking photos of the border and a nearby lake. The invading force has since returned to Ethiopia but left a chilling promise to return to the police out-post.
The Illeret police post just 16 kilometers south of Ethiopia in Kenyan territory was stormed and surrounded by at least 50 Ethiopian forces according to Kenyan police. This happened only a week after a team of surveyors had completed demarcating the Kenya Ethiopia border which has been the subject of quiet discontent in the region.
The Ethiopians were allegedly armed with AK -47 assault rifles and took strategic positions around the police station in what seems to be a pre-planned reconnaissance assault. They then proceeded to inspect the nearby area keenly. It is believed that they were inspecting the border and an adjacent lake. An even more surprising fact is that they admitted that the Kenyan Government was not aware of their presence in the area. An even more worrying thing is that they vowed to return to the area.
This is not the first such encounter along the Kenya-Ethiopia border as it is the third time that forces from Ethiopia have crossed the Kenya–Ethiopia border without contacting Kenyan officials.
North Horr OCPD Tom Odero has called for reinforcements for his men at Illeret as they are only 9 police officers manning the border post and the adjacent area. A brief from the office of the Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet stated that “their (the Ethiopian Forces) intention is not clear” and added that “Illeret Police Station has nine officers only but the few who are there remain on high alert, monitoring the border.”
The military were more relaxed about the situation as they do not seem to believe that the Ethiopians posed a threat worth worrying about. A spokesman for the Kenyan defense forces, Colonel David Obonyo, said they were not aware of the incident.
“We do not have any information. However, Ethiopia is one of our traditional friends and I do not think they would do anything bad, “said Col. Obonyo.
Kenya has had numerous territorial disputes with her neighbors and several solutions to these are either being implemented or are still under debate. Along the Kenya-Somalia border, the illegal entry of immigrants, weapons and terrorist elements has necessitated the construction of the highly controversial border wall amidst protests from the international community and the Somali Government. To the west there are still concerns regarding the territorial claim of the Migingo Islands between Kenya and Uganda with either country insisting the island is their territorial claim. This matter escalated when Ugandan forces populated the island but later withdrew.
It remains to be seen how the government will react to this latest territorial violation.