Kenyans stranded as Ethiopia closes border points

Hundreds of Kenyans, mostly businessmen and revelers are stranded in at least five centres in southern Ethiopia after the closure of border points by Ethiopian Immigration officials.

Residents said Moyale town, Sololo, Forolle, Dukana and Illeret border points were closed on Friday at around 6pm.

"They have closed their border from yesterday (Friday) evening. My vehicle is in Yaballo. My brother went to sell some livestock and we buy goods from them. They are now stranded there," said Yattani Boru, a businessman from Dukana.

The development follows a fierce gun battle on Friday between Kenya police and Ethiopian forces at Anona and parts of Sololo township that left four Ethiopian soldiers and three Kenyan police officers dead.

Ethiopia is fighting the rag-tag OLF rebels in Ethiopia and parts of Marsabit County that it claims hosts their rivals.

Yesterday, Marsabit AP Commandant Jackson Ng'ang'a said all security personnel have been accounted for adding that calm had been restored on the Kenyan side despite the high tension.

"All our officers are accounted for. We lost three officers and we are in command of the situation but tension is still high across (the border)," he told The Sunday Standard in Sololo.

Mr Ng'ang'a however said he was not aware of the closure of the Ethiopian border.

"Kenya's border with Ethiopia is still open and I am not aware whether they have closed theirs. But due to the tension there is no movement (between the two countries)," said the officer.

Following Kenya's move to deploy Kenya Defence Forces to two centres in Sololo, Ethiopia also sent soldiers to man its border.

"Soldiers from Kenya and Ethiopia are patrolling the border. So far no incident but tension is high," said a chief from Uran location who sought anonymity for security reasons.

Ethiopian forces have this year invaded Kenyan territory on three occasions—at Illeret, Sololo and Moyale.

At Sololo, the soldiers kidnapped two KPR officers and confiscated their guns. In Moyale, they stormed into a hospital and rescued their injured colleague.