ISIOLO, Kenya (Reuters) – Kenyan forces have killed at least five Ethiopian fighters from the Oromo Liberation Front in an operation to flush the rebels out of the country’s north, a local official and residents said on Saturday.
OLF rebels have made repeated raids inside Kenya to attack individuals they accuse of opposing the Oromo’s quest for secession. Kenya has conducted several missions to force the militants who also often use Kenya as a hideout back across the border.
“So far we have received reports about the killing of five OLF rebels. I am informed those killed could number even more,” Moyale District Commissioner Joshua Nkatha said by telephone.
Three Kenyan paramilitary troops were injured in the clash.
Several residents from Moyale, a Kenyan border-post town along the porous frontier shared by the east African nation and Ethiopia, said they had seem several Ethiopian military trucks carrying troops into Kenya.
A spokesman for the Ethiopian government said he was not aware of those reports.
“It’s going to be a tough battle. The rebels have been cornered and they would rather die than be captured or surrender,” said Rashid Wario, a local resident from Moyale.
Provincial Police Commander Marcus Ochola said the Kenyan authorities had arrested at least two dozen fighters in an operation launched last month after an increase in the number of abductions and killings by the rebels.
Meanwhile, in northwestern Kenya, three Kenyan police reservists were killed on Saturday by armed Ugandan cattle-rustlers who stole more than 600 cows.