March 13 (UPI) -- Thousands of Ethiopians fled to Kenya this week after the Ethiopian military said it mistakenly killed nine civilians in a botched operation near the border.
The Kenya Red Cross Society said about 5,000 members of Ethiopia's largest ethnic group -- the Oromo -- fled the market town to neighboring Kenya. The exodus began Saturday after the government said its forces mistook the civilians in Moyale for members of the banned Oromo Liberation Front. Nine people died and 12 others sustained injuries.
"There have been gunshots, there are killings," Halkano Halake, spokesman for the governor of Marsabit County in Kenya, told Bloomberg. Refugees "are spread in schools, churches, mosques, private residences and three camps."
KCBS Secretary-General Abba Gullet said many of those fleeing the violence were being housed with relatives or friends in Kenya.
"Currently, the refugee status of these individuals is yet to be determined. Once this determination is made, then hopefully there can be a proper setting of camps if need be," Gullet said.
Moses Ombati, Kenya's eastern regional police commander, told China's state-run Xinhua news agency that law enforcement has heightened security in the area.
"We have deployed more police officers to ensure law and order is maintained and also ensure their safety," he said.