December 5, 2012 (JUBA) - More than 80 people have been killed during an attack in the Wunkech area of Warrap State over the weekend, the Tonj South County commissioner, Mario Monydhieth Gor told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday.
The raiders, claim the commissioner, were a group of an elusive group of armed cattle rustlers who are members of the Gok branch of the Dinka tribe from Cueibet County in neighbouring Lakes State.
"Raiders attacked 12 cattle camps in Wunkec and stole a number of cows", Commissioner Gor said. He condemned the act and claimed that more than 80 people, mostly innocent civilians, have been killed in the attack, which lasted from Saturday 1 to Sunday 2 December.
"They have killed a lot of people. They came at dawn. People were still in the cattle camp. We still do not have clear information at the moment but we believe more than eighty lives have been lost. Only eleven dead bodies on the sides of the raiders have been found", explained commissioner.
Gor said the police, in collaboration with youth groups from the area, had managed to recover some cows but between 300 and 500 cows are estimated to have been stolen from each of the 12 cattle camps.
"The raiders also attacked Cueichok Boma [sub-district] on Sunday morning, setting the area on fire", said Gor.
He called for an immediate deployment South Sudan’s army (SPLA) and related armed forces to recover the stolen cows.
"It will be a big disaster if these cows are not recovered and returned immediately because cows are [a] source of living for our people. I have told officials in the state government. I have talked with the minister of local government and the acting governor. I told them the real situation here", he said.
Manyuat Akot, an eye witness from the area told Sudan Tribune from Tonj on Wednesday that he has counted 71 dead, including twenty women and 14 children and one of whom was a three month old baby.
Akot said 16 people have been admitted to Tonj Hospital, while those with critical gunshots are being moved to Wau Teaching Hospital.
"It is very bad situation. I really do not understand why our people killed themselves like that. I have never seen such situation before. They are burning villages", he claimed.
LAKES STATE RESPONSE
The government of neighbouring Lakes State has responded to the reports of the raid and by assuring the public that those responsible will be held accountability and will face justice.
The Deputy Governor of Lakes State, Mabor Achol Kuer, made a surprise visit to Cueibet County of Lakes State on Wednesday to pass a message of condolences to the family who their son were killed in Wunkec of Tonj South County of Warrap state.
Mabor condemned Cueibet County’s youth for raiding cows from neighbouring Warrap State.
"Those who were involved in this attempt cattle raiding in Tonj South County of Warrap State must [...] face immediate justice", there was "no way for them to escape law", said Mabor.
Cueibet County Commissioner, Isaac Mayom Malek reported on Sunday, that a ring leader of the cattle raiding youth group was arrested when admitted himself to Cueibet County hospital suffering from gunshot wounds.
Malek said that a policeman is guarding the suspect until he is well enough to face justice.
Authorities in Lakes State say the raid was carried out by a group of criminals and, therefore, it cannot be regarded as an attack by the Cueibet County community on Tonj South county.