9 February 2013

South Sudan: Jonglei - Hundreds Feared Dead or Missing in Akobo County Attack

Bor — At least 103 civilians and 14 South Sudan army (SPLA) soldiers were killed on Friday when unknown people attacked a village in South Sudan's Jonglei state county of Akobo, eye witnesses told Sudan Tribune.

The incident occurred in the remote Walgak village of Akobo.

The state governor, Kuol Manyang, however said only 14 people, including 8 SPLA soldiers were wounded, while the whereabouts of hundreds of children remain unknown.

Manyang said the attack took place when the whole village was on move to spend the dry season along Sobat River.

He described the attack as the worst-ever attack in the area since March last year, but said rescue efforts are underway to establish the actual numbers of casualties.

"I have just received the news about it now from the commissioner [of Akobo], that hundreds of people are missing, and many others were killed by a mixed element of Yau Yau [rebels] and youth from Murle tribe", said Manyang.

Governor Manyang said those who carried out the attack also raided several herds of cattle, and were reportedly heading towards Pibor County.

He urged the population to remain calm, saying the army is trying to follow the attackers and track them down. However, Manyang expressed fear that the thick bushes in the area coupled with the long distance could hamper efforts by the army to pursue the attackers.

"Walgak is very far, and bush is very thick, the army might not get them", he said.

It however, remains unclear as to how many people could have died or went missing following the incident, in Jonglei's remote area.

A disarmament campaign initiated by South Sudan government, in March last year has been marred by cases of human rights violations, allegedly committed by the army on civilians.

The Jonglei state governor, on the other hand, blames section of the population for hiding guns, which they later use to cause instability in the state.

"These people hide their guns, and always keep telling others that we have given our guns, but look at what happened," Manyang fumed.

Some of the attackers, he said, were in military attire, raising fears that rebels operating in the state could have been part of the plot, largely blamed on the Murle tribe.

Goy Jooyul, the Akobo County commissioner also confirmed the attack, but did not elaborate further, when contacted on Saturday evening.

Phillip Aguer, the spokesperson of South Sudan army (SPLA) told Sudan Tribune he had no information on the attack in Akobo.

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