Deadly skirmishes between Borana and Gabra communities broke out early Wednesday in Moyale in Marsabit county, which is less than a km from the neighbouring Ethiopia, bringing panic across the restive region, Xinhua reported.
"I can confirm as the leader in charge of the county that 20 people were killed in five spontaneous attacks on five villages in the town. The fighting started early in the morning and has subsided," Marsabit County Governor Ukur Yatani said.
"Five people were killed in Manyatta Burji, four in Odda and the rest were killed in Funan-Nyatta, Sessi and Helu. Those killed were from the both feuding clans and the including children and women," he added.
Fighting between the Borana and Gabra communities began in December 2011, mostly over control of resources such as water and grazing land but the conflict has also been linked to politics.
Moyale district has been the scene of recent tribal clashes involving mainly Borana and Gabra communities of Kenya. In February, more than 30,000 Kenyans crossed into neighbouring Ethiopia following an inter-communal conflict in the region.