Kenyans Demand Ethiopia Punish Militants Who Killed 31 in Attack Last Week

Ethiopia-Kenya Border
Ethiopia-Kenya Border

Northern Kenyans want Ethiopia authorities to prosecute members of the Merille-tribe militia suspected of carrying out a cross-border raid last week that left as many as 31 Kenyans dead.

About 2,000 residents of Todonyang village fled 25 kilometers (15 miles) to Lowoarengak on May 2 when suspected Merille tribesman ambushed the border town, the Turkana Professionals Association said in an e-mailed statement today from Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. Fifteen people in an area populated by the Turkana ethnic group are missing.

Kenya’s government put the death toll at 20 and sent a “protest note” to the Ethiopian government, according to a May 5 statement on the country’s Office of Public Communications’ website, citing Internal Security Minister George Saitoti.

Amid a lack of security, schools in Todonyang have closed, as food and clean drinking-water supplies dwindle even after the government promised to provide aid, the association said.

“We are calling on the Ethiopian government to comply with her obligations under international humanitarian and human- rights law and bring justice to the perpetrators of the Todonyang killing,” the citizens’ group said in the statement. “We urge the international community to provide support and humanitarian assistance to the displaced population.”

The Kenyan government should beef up security to protect civilians living along the border with Ethiopia and set up permanent immigration posts and military camps in four rural communities to help keep the local economy going, it said.

‘Operating With Impunity’

“These militia groups are operating with impunity within the Kenyan territory for control of resources such as water and fishing,” Gregory Akall, a spokesman for the association, said by phone today from Nairobi. “Ethiopia must prosecute them for the problem to ever stop.”

Last week’s attack on a group of Turkana traders returning from a market in Ethiopia was probably to avenge the earlier alleged killing of a Merille tribesman in a church compound housing internally displaced people in Todonyang, Akall said.

It brings the number of Kenyans killed in clashes with the Merille to 86 in 16 incidents since November 2008, according to data collected by the association.

More than 100 people are expected to take part in a march tomorrow in Nairobi to deliver a letter to Saitoti containing the association’s list of demands, Akall said.

By Sarah McGregor, Bloomberg

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Paul Richardson at pmrichardson@bloomberg.net

Related: At least 19 dead in Kenya, Ethiopia border clashes