Tension is high in Moyale town after Ethiopian gunmen, said to be unhappy with the closure of Kenyan border to arrest the spread of coronavirus, attacked a team of local contractors.
The contractors, who started work on Monday, had been hired by the county administration to dig tunnels on the borderline to stop entry and exit from Kenya.
Source told the Nation that the gunmen opened fire on the workers as they excavated a tunnel on Wednesday morning, ripping apart the fuel tank of an excavator .
Gunshots rent the air as the gunmen in military uniform engaged the Kenya Defence Forces (KDF) in sporadic exchange of fire and running battles.
Marsabit County Commissioner Evans Achoki confirmed the incident but remained guarded about the identities of the attackers.
“We are still not sure about the identity of the gunmen who opened fire on our constructors who were digging tunnels along the border consequently damaging one of the fuel tank of the excavators on the site,” Mr Achoki told the Nation on phone.
“KDF has rushed to quell the tension and as we speak there is calm.”
A Kenya Chamber of commerce official told the Nation that Ethiopian traders and security forces were unhappy with Nairobi’s decision to close the border.
Reports indicate Ethiopian Takabas, the equivalent of Kenyan police reservists, expressed their displeasure and vowed to keep the border open.
This is not an isolated attack. Ethiopian gunmen have been crossing into Kenya and attacking villagers suspected to harbour militiamen and rebels.
On March 12, gunmen, whom locals claimed were Ethiopian soldiers, crossed the border and killed five Kenyans at Sessi area.
The foreigners broke into houses and opened fire on the men, accusing them of harbouring Ethiopian rebels.
Sporadic gunshots were also witnessed on March 13 in the area that lies on the Kenya-Ethiopia border.