South Sudan accuses Sudan of killing 79 during cattle raid
South Sudan has accused its former foes in the Khartoum government of arming
gunmen who killed 79 people in a cattle raid, as the UN warned tensions
between the two sides risk regional peace.
4:56PM GMT 31 Jan 2012
"A militia group from Unity state penetrated into Warrap state ... and
attacked people in a cattle camp," said Interior Minister Alison Manani
Magaya, adding 79 people had been killed, updating an earlier toll of 40.
"This militia group was armed by the government of Khartoum," he said,
adding that "mostly the women and children were killed" in the latest wave
of violence in the world's newest nation.
"More weapons are flowing in from Khartoum ... particularly Unity state and
Upper Nile," he said, referring to
> South Sudan's oil-producing states.
Sudan's army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad denied the allegations, saying:
"We don't have any connection with this. We never support any armed
opposition in South Sudan or any place."
South Sudan seceded peacefully from Sudan in July after decades of war, but
both countries have since repeatedly exchanged allegations that each side
backs proxy rebel forces against the other.
Oil-rich but grossly impoverished South Sudan was left awash with guns after
years of conflict, and brutal tit-for-tat raids by rival ethnic groups to
steal cattle from each other are common.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said on Sunday that tensions and a furious row over oil
between the former enemies has become a major threat to regional peace and
"The situation in Sudan and South Sudan has reached a critical point. It has
become a major threat to peace and security across the region," Ban told an
African Union summit in the Ethiopian capital.
Key issues unresolved at independence have escalated into bitter arguments,
including a row over pipeline transit fees to transport the landlocked
South's oil to port in the rump state of Sudan.
Juba said Sunday it had nearly completed a shutdown of its oil production -
the fledgling nation's top revenue source - after it accused Khartoum of
stealing $815 million of its oil, and AU-mediated talks stalled.
In addition, tensions have been raised by their still undemarcated border,
parts of which cut through oilfields.
AU leaders Monday were trying to encourage the rivals to seek a deal on the
sidelines of the Pan-African bloc's summit in Addis Ababa.
The South's oil-producing border state of Unity is a base for a number of
rebel groups that Juba claims are backed by Khartoum to destabilise the
fledgling nation by attacking civilians and laying landmines.
Magaya could not name the specific group responsible for the deadly weekend
attacks, but claimed that rebel groups in Unity state were collaborating
with one another.
"They took a lot of cattle with them," he said, added that the gunmen were
from the Nuer ethnic group, while those attacked were Dinka.
He said government teams had been sent to investigate and that the death
toll could rise as local officials were "still counting the bodies."
South Sudan is reeling from an explosion of ethnic violence, notably in
Jonglei state, where a militia army of up to 8,000 armed youths attacked a
rival ethnic group earlier this month, affecting 120,000 people, according
to the United Nations.
The attacks were a dramatic escalation of centuries old tit-for-tat cattle
raids, with aid workers reporting horrific killings, including babies beaten
against trees and women hacked by machetes.
The United Nations has warned that South Sudan faces massive challenges as
the world's newest nation struggles to support hundreds of thousands of
Last year, over 350,000 people were forced from their homes due to violence,
according to UN figures, while since June, South Sudan has also taken in
over 80,000 refugees fleeing civil war in the north.
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Received on Tue Jan 31 2012 - 08:02:55 EST