Kenya denies 16 soldiers killed near border with Sudan

16:04, October 19, 2009      

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Kenyan authorities have denied media claims that 16 of its soldiers had been shot dead by Toposa militia along the Kenya-Sudan border over the weekend.

Department of Defense spokesman Bongita Ongeri said on Monday that all Kenyan troops along the border are safe and sound and that at no time have they come under any attack.

"We wish to categorically state that we have not had even a single incident of shooting involving our soldiers at that said common border. No incident of attack took place as reported in the media," Ongeri told Xinhua by telephone.

"We are in constant communication with our commanders in the field who have confirmed that no such incident took place near the border," he said.

The authorities said the Kenya security forces have been involved in an operation to flush out criminals along the Nadapal-Lokichogio highway who have been terrorizing motorists and local residents.

The Toposa who are based in eastern Equatoria near Sudan-Kenya border, have been living and grazing their animals on the Kenyan side of the border for some time.

They opposed the establishment of a Kenyan border position in the area. The tribesmen are also accused of being involved in arms trafficking into Ugandan territory.

In July, the Ugandan army killed eight Sudanese tribesmen saying they were trafficking in small arms.

"We wish to clarify that all our troops are safe and sound wherever they are deployed to perform national duties as stipulated in the constitution. As the case has been, service commanders are in constant touch with battalion commanders hence there is no cause for alarm," said Ongeri.

The remarks came as the east African nation has stepped up security near its border with Sudan after reports of clashes between police and Toposa pastoralists.

Police sources confirmed on Monday that a number of security forces engaged a combined force of Toposa militia for the second day running on Sunday.

They said scores of people have fled Nadapal area towards Lokichogio, some 25 kilometers away following the fight which began on Thursday.

The fighting is reported to have taken place at Nadapal, 5 kilometers inside Kenya. Some Kenya Army personnel are also said to be on the ground to give backing in case they are issued with orders.

Source: Xinhua
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