January 7, 2013 (BOR) - Close to 80,000 heads of cattle have been raided from Pajut cattle camp in an attack on Twice East County in which two people were killed, South Sudan officials reported on Monday.
- SPLA soldiers standing near the cattle near Bor, Jonglei, South Sudan, September 26, 2012 (ST)
On Sunday evening, between 5 and 6pm local time, a group of armed militias surrounded the camp, not far from the border between Bor-Twice East counties.
Scores have been killed and others injured in series of attacks and raids across Jonglei since the turn of the year.
The spokesperson of South Sudan’s army (SPLA) spokesman, Colonel Philip Aguer, who happened to be in the area when the attack took place, during the time of the attack, described the raid as “well organized”.
He added that two elderly people were killed in the attack, including the father of SPLA colonel Kuol Atem Pai, and another man by named Monydhot.
Aguer furthered added, “all the cattle were taken” by the raiders who were in military uniform resembling that of the Sudan Armed Forces [SAF]. South Sudan regularly accuses Khartoum of backing a rebellion in Jonglei State’s Pibor County, led by David Yau Yau.
The SPLA began a disarmament campaign in Jonglei to try and stop the cycle of raids and counter raids that killed around 2,000 people over the last two years. However, some groups avoided the process, including Yau Yau’s rebel group causing instability.
Many cattle raids in Jonglei are now blamed on Yau Yau’s rebellion but some politicians in Jonglei said recently that they doubt all the raids can be blamed on his group. They instead blame the SPLA’s failure to disarm the Murle tribe, who come live in Pibor.
A small SPLA unit from the villages around Pajut, joined by another SPLA forces deployed at Jale village of Bor County, and another force sent from the SPLA disarmament team in Jonglei are pursuing the raiders, Aguer said.
“It was followed by youth who are well armed, some are armed by spears, and few soldiers from the area. Now we were told that these few soldiers were joined force that was near Arial in Jale, and another two from the comp bodies were sent from the headquarters of disarmament”, said Aguer.
According to Aguer, who spoke directly with the head of disarmament force in Jonglei, Kuol Diem Kuol after the attack, the SPLA and youth pursuing the raiders and the cattle, were given orders do their best to following the cattle.
He urged the Jonglei State government and the local authorities to deploy the police and other organized forces to help the army in protecting the civilians and their properties.
Twice East County commissioner Dau Akoi, however, blamed the army for the attack, saying the two SPLA units deployed behind the cattle camp did not properly patrol the area to counteract the advancing forces of David Yau Yau in the area.
Akoi described the attack as more serious than previous attacks, considering the number of assailants and their organisation. He said the group were armed with many rifles, rocket launchers, [RPGs 7], PKM and the other machine guns.
He doubted whether SPLA pursuers would actually rescue the cattle, as they had spent Monday with without any significant result.
“The situation at the moment, the army is still perusing the cattle as they said, but we are not sure that the cattle can be recovered again”, said the commissioner.
The commissioner said the wounded victims of the attack were taken to Bor civil hospital for treatment.
A 25-year-old-man from Twice East told Sudan Tribune in Bor on Monday, that he condemned the attack, pointing out that it could prevent his plans to get marry his fiance in February.
Some of the stolen cows would have been used to pay the traditional bride price, he said.