9 December 2012

Sudan: Unity State Official Claims Involvement of SPLA Soldier in Cattle Raid

Bentiu — Unity state's Payinjiar county authorities say the death-toll of the attack on Thursday has reached 11, after conducting a search on Makur village on Friday, and claim the involvement of a member of the South Sudan army (SPLA) in the attack.

According to the press release by the county commissioner, Peter Gai Joak, on Saturday, the cattle raiders have killed three people, in addition to the eight found dead at the scene of the crime.

Makur village cattle camp is about 30km away from Payinjiar headquarters.

"We have found another three people murdered in the bush after Thursday's raids by Lake state youths. It is a sad moment in the whole county after the loss of 11 people at once," said Joak.

On Saturday Payinjiar county commissioner press secretary, David Yoak Ter, told Sudan Tribune the attack was planned by cattle rustlers and soldiers from the South Sudan army (SPLA).

"The evidence is that an SPLA soldier was killed, this is a clear mess up from the army. We have a photo of the dead body from SPLA, we don't understand why the army was involved in raiding the civilians instead of protecting them external attack," said Ter.

Joak told Sudan Tribune on Saturday that the raiders took over 7,000 heads of cattle dismissing the figure of 200 claimed by officials on Thursday.

Joak said, he has already informed the commissioners of Rumbek central and north about the raiders to make sure they are tracked down.

Last week the Rumbek central commissioner, Abraham Mayen Kuc accused Unity state youths of raids in Lake State, which was denied by Payinjiar authorities.

There has been a long history of cattle raiding in South Sudan. Cattle are many community's main commodity and are exchanged by families during marriage. There has been an influx of bachelor returnees in the wake of South Sudanese independence and the proliferation of arms after the two decades of civil war, which laid the way for separation. This has put more pressure on the cattle market, pricing some out and leading, in some instances, to increased cattle raiding.

It was hoped that disarmament programmes have been taking place across South Sudan would quell such violence. Unity state's began in November 2011.

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