More than 2,000 Ethiopians crossed into Kenya seeking refuge, the Kenyan Red Cross Society said, after several civilians were killed in what the Ethiopian military said was a botched security operation targeting militants.
Addis Ababa said soldiers were deployed to the Moyale area of Oromiya, a region that shares a border with Kenya, in pursuit of Oromo Liberation Front fighters who came into the country from Kenya.
Faulty intelligence led soldiers to launch an attack that killed nine civilians and injured 12 others, the state-run Ethiopian News Agency said.
“The Kenyan Red Cross Society received at least 2,000 Ethiopian asylum seekers in Moyale following their displacement from Ethiopia,” the aid organisation said in a statement.
The Oromo Liberation Front is a secessionist group which government branded as terrorist.
Oromiya has been plagued by outbreaks of violence even though Ethiopia declared a six-month, nationwide state of emergency last month.
The Kenyan Red Cross said refugees from Ethiopia started arriving in Kenya on March 10, the majority women and children.
A state official in Oromiya told Reuters on condition of anonymity tens of thousands of people have been internally displaced.
The mayor of Moyale was not immediately available to give details.
Ethiopia said five soldiers who took part in the attack were “disarmed” and are under investigation, while a high-level military delegation was dispatched to launch an inquiry.
Addis Ababa imposed a state of emergency a day after Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn announced his resignation in what he said was a bid to smooth the way for reforms.
His successor as premier and chairperson of the ruling EPRDF coalition is expected to be named before the end of this month.