Foreign fighters are fuelling ethnic clashes in Marsabit County, the Nation has learnt.
At least 10 people have been killed in the last one week, with Oromia Liberation Front (OLF) fighters from Ethiopia being blamed for the attacks. The fighting is between the Gabra and Borana communities.
On Friday evening, three people, among them a child, were attacked at their home in Kiwanja Ndege area by two unknown assailants who escaped on a motorbike. The attack was as retaliation to the murder of a retired intelligence officer a week earlier. The killing of Sharamo Fora, 70, at Kiwanja Ndege was also a retaliatory one following the murder of six people one week before.
Retaliation seems to be the new trend in the perennial Marsabit clashes. The recent developments, however, show that the tactics are shifting from random attacks on entire villages to targeted hits. Women and children are not being spared.
Unlike in the past where communities used local warriors to fight, villagers are said to be employing the services of foreign assassins. Victims are usually influential community leaders and elders. Law enforcement officers are also targeted.
The Ministry of Interior has already admitted that there’s a heavy presence of OLF and other foreign mercenaries in the country. OLF has been active in the region for over two year.
Documents from the ministry show that police investigations have unearthed operational camps and hideouts belonging to the OLF in the Funan Idha area.
“Inside the militia camp, several government stores, including military attires, government drugs, OLF uniforms, relief food, civilian clothes, household goods, equipment and a Cooperative Bank book of Oromia in Ethiopia, among others were recovered in the said camp believed to be predominantly occupied by OLF,” stated a March 10 police report.
“They have been staging attacks in the neighbouring Gabbra community in full knowledge and blessings and funding from politicians of one community,” it added.
The recent exit of elite police units, such as the General Service Unit (GSU), Border Patrol Unit (BPU) and Rapid Deployment Unit (RDU), following a three-month operation earlier this year, has further exacerbated the presence of the foreign militia.
Some of the fighters are believed to have set up camp inside Marsabit Forest.