By Agence France-Presse
At least fifty people were killed in two raids by a tribal militia in eastern South Sudan, with about 60 women and children abducted, officials said Wednesday, the latest in a series of attacks between rival communities.
Dut Achuek, a state minister, said eight people died in an attack Monday in Jonglei State, while a follow-up raid on Tuesday left “23 women killed and… 19 men killed.”
Most of the victims were civilians whose homes were burned and livestock stolen, Achuek said.
Both attacks, by armed men from the Murle ethnic group, targeted Dinkas living in villages about 150 kilometres (90 miles) north of Bor, the state capital.
Kudumoc Nyakurono, information minister for the neighbouring Boma State, confirmed the involvement of Murle militia members from the area.
“We know that these youth went there from Boma State,” he said, adding that investigations were underway to work out the exact circumstances of the attacks.
David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), condemned the killings “and the abduction of some 60 women and children which accompanied these attacks.”
“I urge the leaders of both communities to rein in the youth, show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings,” he said.
Shearer added that the dead included humanitarian workers were who were “working selflessly for the people of Jonglei”, though there was no immediate independent confirmation of this.
Rival pastoralist communities in South Sudan have a long and bloody history of tit-for-tat raids in which cattle are rustled and property looted. Women are commonly raped and children abducted, adding fuel to revenge attacks.
In one of the worst such cases, over 3,000 people were killed when members of a well-armed Nuer militia attacked the Murle in 2012.
Tens of thousands of people have died in the civil war in the world’s youngest nation since December 2013 that erupted when President Salva Kiir accused Riek Machar, his former deputy, of plotting a coup.
The United States on Tuesday threatened to take unspecified measures against South Sudan’s government unless it moves to end the conflict and stop harassing UN peacekeepers and aid workers.
The US unsuccessfully pushed last year for an arms embargo on South Sudan and international sanctions on senior officials.
A report released this week by UN sanctions monitors accused the government of using food aid as a weapon of war during its campaign against opposition rebels in the northwestern city of Wau.
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