February 19, 2013 (JUBA) – Murle community leaders were summoned by the country’s Vice President, Riek Machar, following the brutal killing of 118 people in Akobo County, which was carried out by the Pibor county-based rebels.
- South Sudan’s Vice President Riek Machar (Reuters)
The group of uniformed predominantly Murle rebels loyal to David Yauyau intercepted and killed 104 Lou-Nuer civilians, mostly women and children, while they were on their seasonal migration from Walgak area to water sources north of Akobo county.
South Sudanese army (SPLA) also lost 14 soldiers in the attack while trying to repel the attackers.
The incident is a setback to the ongoing efforts to reconcile the rival communities in the state, officials say.
On Sunday, South Sudan’s Vice-President Riek Machar led a high-level security and humanitarian delegation to the scene of the attack where they paid their condolences to the bereaved families and reassured the affected populations of the government’s commitment to disarm all the civil populations in the state.
During the visit of the Vice-President to Walgak, chiefs and elders in the area expressed frustration over what they said was government’s negligence, which left them vulnerable to the “defying” armed Murle community and their home grown rebels of Yauyau.
On Monday after his return from Jonglei, Machar summoned Murle leaders who are officials in the executive and parliament at both national and Jonglei state’s level to consult with them on the role they should play to end insecurity in Pibor county.
In a statement to the press after the meeting, Ismail Konyi, a Murle elder and member of parliament said their delegation briefed the Vice President on their recent efforts on peace in Pibor county.
He said they failed to have direct contact with the rebel leader David Yauyau in their attempt to persuade him to make peace with the government.
Konyi said the Murle leaders were committed to find Yauyau and persuade him to end the rebellion. He however warned that the government may be forced to take other measures to end the rebellion if Yauyau refused to make peace.
The community leaders were also expected to consult with the President of the Republic, Salva Kiir Mayardit, on Tuesday, in the presence of the Vice President and security ministers, on what course of action to take in order to bring the rebellion of Yauyau to an end.
Armed Murle youth have also joined the rebellion to avoid disarmament in Pibor area and are the main source of insecurity to their neighboring communities in a cycle of revenge attacks.
Last year Vice-President Machar thwarted an organized revenge attack on Murle by 12,000 heavily armed youth of Lou-Nuer who accused the government of failure to disarm the neighboring tribe following the killing of hundreds of their community members.
The youth, who then acquired new guns from another Jonglei’s rebel group under the command of late George Athor, publicly revealed that their mission was to capture the whole Pibor County, home of Murle, and impose their authority over the county for three months to disarm them by force on behalf of the government.
The angered youth in December 2011 captured a Murle town of Linkwangole near the Pibor county headquarters and further matched towards other interior parts of Murle areas.