Tribal attacks wrench South Sudan as disarmament starts
Tue Mar 13, 2012 6:08am GMT
KHARTOUM (Reuters) - Cattle raiders in South Sudan launched a major assault
on a rival tribe, causing heavy loss of life, officials said on Monday, as
the government began a disarmament plan to halt the tit-for-tat attacks that
have torn the new nation.
Members of Jonglei state's Murle tribe attacked people from the Lou Nuer
group in an area near the Ethiopian border over the weekend, South Sudan's
military spokesman Philip Aguer said. Citing reports from local officials,
he said that up to 300 people may have been killed in the raids.
South Sudan declared independence from Sudan in July under a 2005 peace deal
that ended decades of civil war between north and south. It was a moment of
euphoria for many southerners, but the young government has struggled to
assert control over a territory roughly the size of France, awash with guns
and hit by violence between competing tribes.
Aguer said violence hit the Wanding area. "The Murle were attacking the Nuer
there," he said. "They took a large number of cattle, and many people were
The governor of Jonglei state and other local officials could not
immediately be reached for comment.
The attack was apparently in response to Lou Nuer raids on Murle settlements
in December last year, including on the town of Pibor, which killed hundreds
Two United Nations officials confirmed that the raids against the Lou Nuer
camps had taken place, but said they could not yet confirm specific numbers
A lack of roads, electricity and stable communications complicate the task
of confirming casualty figures in South Sudan, where tribal violence often
breaks out in remote regions of what is one of the world's least developed
The war with the north, fought for all but a few years between 1955 and
2005, also left the country awash with weapons. About 2 million people died
in the conflict.
Aguer said the latest tribal violence would not halt a disarmament campaign
which the government launched in Jonglei state on Monday.
"All of them, the Murle, the Dinka, the Nuer - all the tribes in Jonglei
state carrying illegal arms will have to be disarmed completely," he said,
listing the state's three largest tribes.
"Whatever time it will take the army to collect, they will continue doing
it," he said. "The responsibility of protection of civilians belongs to the
government, not the individuals."
He said the army was capable of both preventing further attacks and
Many members of the Murle tribe complain the army is dominated by the Dinka
and Nuer tribes, however, highlighting the difficulties of disarmament. Aid
workers say previous disarmament campaigns have been poorly managed and have
failed to halt violence.
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Received on Wed Mar 14 2012 - 10:17:20 EDT