Nearly 5,000 people have fled to Kenya from the Ethiopian border town of Moyale after the weekend shooting of nine civilians by troops, the Kenyan Red Cross said Tuesday.
Ethiopian state media said soldiers on Saturday shot nine civilians near the town after mistaking them for members of the banned Oromo Liberation Front (OLF) who were trying to sneak into the country.
“Approximately 5,000 refugees have arrived in Moyale, the majority being women and children,” a Red Cross statement said.
“These include pregnant and lactating mothers, chronically ill persons, those abled differently and the elderly.”
A Moyale resident said Ethiopian soldiers were trying to seek out Oromo activists. The border town is sliced in two with one side in Ethiopia and the other in Kenya.
Ethiopian refugees speak of horror and agony
“There is continued aggression and harassment which creates fear and forces people to flee,” the local resident told AFP.
Oromia was the epicentre of a protest movement against Ethiopia’s one-party rule that started in late 2015 and spread to the neighbouring Amhara region, leaving hundreds dead and resulting in tens of thousands of arrests.
A 10-month state of emergency imposed in October 2016 quelled much of that violence, but the government remains unpopular among the Oromo, Ethiopia’s largest ethnicity who inhabit Oromia.