WAJIR (Xinhua) -- At least three Ethiopian aliens have been killed and 52 others who narrowly escaped death were rescued by security forces in an ambush in Wajir, northern Kenya, officials confirmed on Monday.
Wajir County Commissioner Naftali Mungathia said the foreigners, who were being smuggled from Ethiopian’s region by Kenyan traffickers come under arbitrary gun fire from unknown armed assailants, who waylaid them along Wajir-Moyale road on Sunday evening.
The County administrator said the unidentified bandits of unknown number attacked the vehicle carrying the aliens at area near Bute town some 230 km from Wajir town.
Mungathia added the motives of the attackers can’t be immediately established, noting that among those arrested were three Kenyans from the central region, who were smuggling the Ethiopians into the country illegally.
However, some security sources within Wajir police station said the bandits could be either of the two marauding militia from clans fighting in the county, who might have mistaken those in the vehicle as people from their rival clan.
Mungathia said the aliens were now held at Wajir police station for interrogation and could appear before the Wajir senior resident magistrate to answers charges of unlawfully been present in the country.
Hundreds of aliens are being smuggled into the country despite the presence of security agents in all towns in northern Kenya.
According to the International Organization of Migration (IOM), up to 20,000 Somali and Ethiopian immigrants are smuggled into Kenya annually with the South Africa as their final destination.
The Kenyan authorities have blamed the vastness of the region for the runaway influx of foreigners in to Kenya through Moyale on Kenya-Ethiopia borders.
Refugee rights organizations and aid agencies have blamed poverty in Africa for the rising cases of human trafficking.
They said that the huge supply of labor both skilled and unskilled makes them vulnerable to criminal syndicates.