10 February 2013

South Sudan: Unity State Warns of Cross-Border Attack

Bentiu — South Sudan's Unity state warned on Sunday that the army of neighbouring Sudan was planning an attack on their military base in the Panakuach area of Mayom county.

Gatduong Gatluak Geaw, who was shot in the alleged cross-border Misseriya attack, being treated at Bentiu hospital, 10 February 2013 (ST)

Unity state's minister of information, Joseph Arop Malual, told Sudan Tribune that South Sudan's army (SPLA) are reporting that the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) are moving towards Parieng junction in preparation for an attack.

The accusation comes after a cross border raid on Thursday wounded two civilians who were grazing their cattle by the Nyakang River. The victims told Sudan Tribune that 365 cows were stolen in the attack, which they blamed on members of the Misseriya tribe, who they claim carried out the attack with backing from the Sudanese army.

Malual said the Unity state government is working hard to avoid further border clashes and has deployed border and security forces to the area to protect civilians.

The border between the two nations has remained tense since South Sudan seceded in 2011. Most of the border has not been demarcated and there are many contested areas, which remain highly militarised despite a deal to create a buffer zone being signed in September last year.

Both sides charge the other of backing rebel armed groups operating either side of the border and South Sudan regularly accuses Khartoum of conducting ground and air attacks on its territory.

Jany Kamwini, a 22-year-old cattle keeper, was shot in the testicle during Thursday's raid. He told Sudan Tribune on Sunday, while being treated in Bentiu hospital, that a large number of well-equipped Misseriya men with heavy ammunition attacked him and a friend as they were grazing their cattle at the Nyakang River.

"When the incident happened we were with our cows, and found a big number of armed men in the bush. After seeing us they shot at us, and managed to take over 300 cows, while we were together with my colleagues with whom we look after our cows, and these were arms pastoralists from the north", said Kamwini.

Gatduong Gatluak Geaw, who was also admitted to Bentiu hospital with a severe wound on his left chest, was unable to speak with Sudan Tribune on Sunday due to his injuries.

A nurse at Bentiu hospital, Abdelgadil Teak Jiek, described his injuries as serious but said the condition of both men had improved since they were first admitted.

"When they were brought here it was a terrible situation compared to their condition now. At first we used a tube for feeding them but yesterday we removed the tube and we made some surgery and we are working on this for better results and hopeful everything will be fine," Jiek said.

The attack has come as a surprise to many in the community as chiefs from Mayom county last year came to several agreements with Misseriya leaders allowing them access to grazing land and free trading between them and the nomadic tribe members.

The Unity state cabinet called an urgent meeting on Friday, condemning the raid and accusing the Sudanese government of backing the Misseriya nomads to carry out the attack.

Mayom county residents are calling for all ties with the Misseriya to be halted, including with those who work as traders in Unity state.

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