9 January 2013

South Sudan: Jonglei - Dinka Clans Clash in Bor, Two Killed, Four Injured

Bor — Tension remains high after clashes between two clans from the Dinka tribe in Bor County after two people were killed and two others were wounded in a clash on Tuesday evening, the police told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday..

Two policeman were wounded when the police attempted to intervened at about 6pm, one hour into the two hour gun battle, between members of the Deer and Koch clans of of Makuach Payam [district], according to anonymous police sources.

The police eventually managed to separate the two groups just before night fell at around 7pm at the village, which is not far from Bor town centre. The police blame the Deer clan for shooting at their offices, injuring Major Mayom Gai and Majur Geu, who was shot in the neck.

It is unclear what caused the fighting, with a variety of reasons given by local people on Wednesday, including a land dispute going back to 1934 in which 34 members of the Deer clan were killed.

The land claimed by both sides is a raised piece of ground surrounded by a swamp, which is used as a cattle camp. The area is known as Toc by the Deer clan and Nomrier by the Koch.

However, other local people said the recent fighting was a retaliation made by Deer youth following the death of one of their members when the two sides clashed during a public dance in the middle of last year.

Some elders from within Makuach gave a further reason for the clashes. They said that the fighting was caused by the removal and replacement of a post, demarcating the border between the two communities first placed their by the British, during Anglo-Egyptian rule in the 1940s.

One of the elders told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that members of the Deer clan were accused by the Koch community to have removed the border pole without consulting them.

The old man explained that, recently, a group of young men from the Koch clan mobilised themselves to defend the post after hearing a rumour that the Deer youth planned to remove the border pole.

"I don't which side arrived to the border first, we heard gunshots in a close range, so we had to run to the opposite side to avoid being killed", he said in Dinka.

Police are now deployed at the main gate of Bor civil hospital, where the wounded sought medical help, block civilians from entering the hospital.

The Commissioner of Bor County is yet to give a public statement on the fighting and the Chairman of the Bor Community, Professor Ajuoi Magot was also unreachable on Wednesday.

However, the Bor community's secretary general, Mr. Mach Achuek said "the commissioner and the community sent the police and the place is calmed now."

He said investigations about who started the fighting will conducted, adding that the Bor community needed t play a role in resolving the problem rather than apportioning blame.

A man, from the Deer community who was seriously wounded in a similar clash last year, died on Saturday possibly adding the tension between the two groups. Rumours about a possible retaliatory attack were received with seriousness by the community leaders.

Achuek called for leaders from the rival groups to convince their members not to resort to violence but to resolve difference through dialogue or the legal system.

"I don't [know] which side started the fighting but we will work to solve it", he said adding that he would not give numbers of casualties in the fighting until the police had verified them.

The chairperson of Bor Youth Association, Thon Ayuen, described those involved in the violence as "criminals" and "law breakers" claiming that they must have brought or stolen rifles from the army or police in order to fight each other.

Jonglei has seen a state-wide disarmament campaign over the last year following large scale raids and counter raids, mainly between the Murle of Pibor County and other communities such as the Dinka and Nuer.

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