Thursday, May 5, 2011

Five more feared dead in Turkana as Kenya protests to Ethiopia

By Nation Correspondents

The government has protested to Ethiopia on the Turkana killings.

At the same time, fresh information suggests five more people may have been killed by Merille bandits two days after 20 others were shot dead.

Turkana North district commissioner Jack Opuo could neither confirm nor deny the killings at Todonyang on the Kenya-Ethiopia border, saying security personnel had been dispatched to investigate the incident.

“Security personnel have been sent to verify the alleged killings,” said Mr Opuo on phone.

But residents fleeing the insecurity-hit area said among the dead were Mr Edapal Lokoyo, his two daughters, a Mr Nakonyi and another person.

“The victims were escaping from the trouble-hit area when they were shot dead,” said Ms Jacinta Ekai by telephone. She termed the killing an act of provocation.

Mr Opuo said a security meeting between administrators from the two countries would be held tomorrow to quell tension following the killing of 20 Kenyans.

A contingent of security personnel has been deployed to Todonyang to contain rising tension following the attacks.

The attacks followed the killing of four Merille fishermen on the shores of Lake Turkana on Monday.

More than 50 Turkana families have been evacuated from the border.

Also withdrawn from Todonyang are more than 20 Merrile families who are part of 3,000 foreigners on the Kenyan side of the border.

Internal Security assistant minister Orwa Ojodeh said both countries should not allow lawlessness to persist and that anyone found to have been involved in the killings would face the law.  

Mr Ojodeh said that to counter any future attacks between the two communities, the government had moved the General Service Unit (GSU) and the Administration Police camps at Todonyang to the actual border point, 14 kilometres away.

The officers would be monitoring the movement into the country by the Merille people and screen them before they are let in.

Internal Security permanent secretary Francis Kimemia appealed for calm and urged the Turkanas to avoid revenge. The two communities had been coexisting at Todonyang Catholic Church, locally known as Kijiji.

Mr Kimemia said the Joint Border Commissioners meeting will be held early next week and that the vetting of respected leaders to join the Kenya Police Reserve was on.

The reservists will help the local security agencies in beefing up security along the border.

Plans are also under way to organise peace and reconciliation meetings in Kenya and between the tribes living on the border, he said. 

Mr Ojodeh said the distribution of relief food would continue to deter the Turkana from moving to the Ethiopian side in search of food.

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