By Bonifacio Taban Kuich
January 11, 2013 (BENTIU) - Bandits in South Sudan’s Unity State attacked a police Toyota pickup vehicle on Thursday afternoon killing three and leaving five critically injured in Payinjiar County, local officials have said.
The deadly incident occurred at 2:00pm on the road between between Mayom payam [district] of Payinjiar County and Madol junction of Mayiandit County.
Among the dead were two children and one adult. The Toyota pickup land cruiser was carrying 16 passengers traveling from Payinjiar County heading to Unity State’s capital, Bentiu. The gang is suspected to have been from Rumbek North neighbouring Lakes State, according to Unity State officials.
Paul Machul Kuol Gatluak, the director of finance at Unity State’s ministry of animal resources and fisheries was among those attacked on Thursday. Two of his sons were among those killed.
Cattle raiding and banditry remains a big challenge in South Sudan, especially along the borders between Unity, Warrap and Lake states.
Yesterday’s attack angered resident’s of Payinjiar including local MPs, who called on the government to respond by increasing the number of security forces deployed on roads leading into county.
Gatluak Pech Dak an MP from Mayom Payam urged lawmakers from both states to focus on peace-building among their young people in order to stop the practice of cattle raiding.
“We really call for the two states government to handle and this issue through peaceful facilitation which appeared several times in my reports that there is need for intervention for these insecurity among the two communities from Lake and Unity State”.
Dak says he submitted a report calling for reconciliations among the youth of communities either side of the state border to the office of governor. He added that if youth from the Dinka and Nuer tribes were brought together to discuss ways forward to stop the cycle of raids and violence things may improve.
“We need to call the youths even in their cattle camp, they need to be mobilized and then they must know there is a government and the government does not belong to one tribe, it belongs to all us and that is what we are working for as the representative of government and we need to bring the conflicting communities together”, said Dak.
“We need actually facts to disseminate and calling on the national government and the state government if they are initiating any peace talks, they have to involve the area representatives and the chiefs so that the national reconciliation should go as well”.
However, people in Payinjiar County say they live in fear from what they describe as continuous attacks from raiders crossing the border from Lakes State.
Tito Gatchang, 35, a member of staff at Liech College in Bentiu town, condemned the attack saying it was very bad that citizens from the same country kill each other in this manner and asked that the government of neighbouring Lake State do more to control the criminal gangs who take part in cross border raids.