Ethiopian armed forces invade Kenya in border row

Ethiopian armed forces in armoured vehicles drove about 15km deep into Kenyan territory at the border trading centre of Illeret following a disagreement between Kenyan and Ethiopian surveyors mandated to check beacons marking the boundary between the two countries.

Over the last one month, surveyors from the two countries were at Illeret to check on international beacons, an exercise last conducted in 1964.

The beacons were established initially between the British colonial government (Kenya) and Italy (Ethiopia) before the First World War and later ratified by the British and Ethiopia under Emperor Menelik after the Italians were kicked out by the locals.

On Sunday, two days after the joint surveyors concluded their work, Ethiopian forces from a nearby border base descended on Illeret that is located on eastern bank of Lake Turkana and not far from Lake Omo where the Ethiopian government is constructing a hydro-electric power dam.

Yesterday, Marsabit County Commissioner Peter Thuku confirmed the heavy presence of the Ethiopian army at Illeret but dismissed the notion that it was an invasion adding that the foreign troops "might have strayed into Kenya unknowingly while on patrol".

Civilian sources who talked to The Standard said the Ethiopian soldiers left Illeret on Monday after being in the country for about 13 hours.

The administrator also confirmed that surveyors from both countries were in the area to recheck beacons at their common border.

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Locals who included junior government officials but sought anonymity due to sensitivity of the matter, said the Ethiopians beat up fishermen and destroyed their gadgets adding that the troops came all the way to the police station that also hosts the General Service Unit.

"They came deep into Illeret looking for the Kenyan surveyors. They went to the police station but I don't know what they talked about. But at the lake, they beat up people and damaged our boats," said a fisherman.

A primary school teacher claimed the Ethiopians said a large part of Illeret is their territory and vowed to use force to reclaim the area.

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Ethiopian armed forcesnational boundariesnational governmentborder row