Victims of ethnic violence in Jonglei state in South Sudan wait in line at the World Food Program distribution center in Pibor to receive emergency food rations, last week., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Jonglei: “Over 500 people killed or missing” after Akobo attack – commissioner
March 10, 2012 (BOR) – Jonglei State’s Akobo commissioner says between 500 and 800 are missing some of them feared dead following Friday’s dawn attack on cattle camps and villages by armed Murle tribesmen.
In this UN file photo of 2009 tribal attacks in Jonglei, the family of a SPLA officer who was killed during the fighting in Duk Padiet mourn him at a funeral at the family homestead. “About 500 to 800 people have either lost their lives, missing or abducted,” Akobo county commissioner Goy Jooyol told the Sudan Tribune by phone Saturday evening.
“There are reports that many children are abducted,” he added. Due to the remote location Sudan Tribune has not been able to independently verify the claims.
Commissioner Jooyol repeated his calls for “help from well—wishes and friends of Akobo because our resources” are overstretched. Jooyol described the situation as “a real disaster.”
He said: “There are no medicines and it is very difficult to reach” Dengjok Payam (district) which is about 90 kilometres north of Akobo town.
Joshua Konyi, the Pibor County Commissioner, where the Murle tribe are from, told Sudan Tribune that he was aware of the attack. However, the chairperson of Murle youth in Pibor, Nyany Korok, said that the Akobo attack had not come to his notice.
After 6,000 Luo-Nuer attacked Pibor County over December and January Konyi claimed that over 3,000 people had been killed in the raid, although this figure has been dismissed by the UN Mission in South Sudan.
“The number of people who dead in any attack can’t just be estimated. But for sure the death toll be high”, Jooyul said.
The clashes in Pibor triggered revenge attacks in Luo-Nuer and Dinka Bor areas caused and has led the government to deploy 12,000 soldiers to the state in preparation for adisarmament campaign that is expected to begin in the next few days.
The Akobo County attacks are likely to make the process more complicated with South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir already indicating that South Sudan’s military will use force if weapons are not handed over voluntarily.
Kiir is expected to visit Jonglei State capital Bor on Monday to officially begin the disarmament process.
Cattle raids, like the one in Akobo on Friday, often occur in remote areas with poor roads making it hard to the South Sudan army (SPLA) and peacekeepers from the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), to respond.
MURLE WITHDRAW WITH CATTLE
Akobo commissioner Goy claims that the attackers withdrew from the Dengjok area with 500,000 after occupying nine cattle camps on from Friday morning until Saturday. He said that several of the raiders had been killed and that armed local youth were pursuing the raiders.
Sudan Tribune has not been able to independently confirm reports that up to 290 dead bodies have already been discovered.
Some Jonglei State MPs visited the area today using UNMISS helicopters on Saturday but they did not give any statements to the press upon their return to Bor.
The Akobo Commissioner has told Sudan Tribune that due to swampy nature of the area and the many rivers many people had nowhere to escape to. Some people had drowned in rivers as the fled the attack which began 5am on Friday, Jooyul said.
Cattle are kept in the swampy Dengjok area to the north of Akobo County during the dry season.
Jooyul said the numbers of dead would be made public in a few days time once local administrators had given him a comprehensive report.
TWIC EAST ATTACK
At least two people were killed and two others survived with injuries in a separate attack on Twic East County at 2am on Saturday, Twic East commissioner Dau Akoy told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.
Akoy said 65 cattle were raided by the attack in the Nyang area of Twic East. The attackers killed a woman and a man while they were sleeping, he said.
Disarmament is perceived by most people in the state as the only way to achieve peace and reconciliation in Jonglei.