12 February 2013

Sudan: Jonglei Government Condemns Violence in Akobo

Bor — The deputy governor of Jonglei state and the minister of information, Hussein Maar Nyuot, has condemned a brutal attack in Akobo county which left 118 civilians and 14 South Sudanese army (SPLA) soldiers dead.

The incident, reportedly carried out by criminal elements within the Murle tribe David Yau Yau-led rebel group, occurred in the remote Walgak payam (district), during the community's yearly migration to cattle camps at Sobat River.

Maar, who has just returned from the area, said he went to pay his condolences to the families of the dead in Akobo and their relatives scattered in the area.

"It was the innocent killing , nobody in the state can tolerate that as all of us are working for peace and it is very unfortunate that there is a group that has not listen[ed] to [these] peace messages," said Maar.

He also congratulated the work of the SPLA forces in recovering cattle raided during the attack.

"I want to [take] this opportunity to congratulate our SPLA forces in Akobo for the good work that they have done, they pursued the criminal, they intercepted them and managed to recover the cattle but so far, children and women are not recovered," said Maar.

He said the SPLA was tracking the assailants and was still hopeful of recovering some of the abducted women and children.

In a statement released by Akobo county commissioner Goi Jooyul after the attacks, he said "unarmed Akobo civilians escorting their cattle were murdered in cold blood" after being violently attacked by a heavily-armed group, some of whom were dressed in military attire.

The commissioner confirmed that an unspecified number of women and children had been abducted, while thousands of head of cattle were also seized in the surprise attack, which had overwhelmed an SPLA force accompanying the people.

Survivors have confirmed the use of heavy weaponry including RPGs by the assailants, as well as the use of spears and machetes by some.

Addressing the media in his office, Maar described the attacks as "a very sad moment" for Jonglei state, which had been enjoying a relatively peaceful period for the past year.

Maar said that calm had been shattered after criminals affiliated with the David Yau Yau-led rebel group started raiding neighbouring counties.

He appealed to security forces in the region to pursue an urgent campaign of disarmament across the state over the next two months, warning if it "is not done now it will be too late and they [armed gangs] will cause a lot of insecurity, particularly during the rainy season".

Hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Bor to condemn the recent attack in Akobo, calling on the government to implement a comprehensive and universal disarmament campaign in all Jonglei counties.

Demonstrators went to the governor's office where they presented a document containing their grievances. Sudan Tribune has been unable to obtain a copy.

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