May 13, 2013 (BENTIU) - Authorities from Unity state say that five men, including their leader Gatluak Kuekuek, clashed with police and soldiers on Sunday as they returned from a cattle aid on Rumbek North (Maper) county in neighbouring Lakes state and on Unity state’s Mayiandit county.
- Map of South Sudan’s Unity State.
Gideon Gatpan Thaor, the commissioner of Mayiandit county, told Sudan Tribune on Monday that the five raiders are known for their activities along border between two states. Thoar says security forces are looking for those who are trying to destabilise Lakes-Unity relations.
“We are working toward improving, the ongoing insecurity caused by cattle rustling along [the] border, but our greater challenges, lack of proper roads constructions has also contributed to limit continue patrolling along our borders”, he said.
Commissioner Thoar told Sudan Tribune yesterday that four of the five raiders were from Mayom county of Unity state.
He added that the authorities in the area are investigating the cattle rustlers and vowed that they would be caught and face justice.
Cattle raiding has been an ongoing problem along the borders of Unity, Warrap and Lake state.
Last week over 400 heads of cattle were raided by rustlers suspected to have come from neighbouring Warrap, that led to a police officer being wounded as he tried to recover the cattle.
Authorities in Rumbek North (Maper) have reported that the attack has killed two people and left two others with gunshot wounds.
Lakes state officials say they suspect the raid was carried out by pastoralist youth from Mayendit and Panyjiar of Unity State.
County information official, Peter Makuei Tinyjok, said that relationship between Lakes State and Unity state had been calm for the last month but the resumption of cattle cattle would have a negative affect on relations.
“Youth alleged to have come from Unity state of Manyendit and Panyjiar counties of Unity State attack Rumbek North area of Majak cattle camp killing at least two people and wounded two more others. The attack occurred at 3pm. Right now the situation is quite confusing in the area”, he said.
He added that Lakes and Unity state government officials have asked their youth to stop cattle raids.
Unity state’s Payinjiar county commissioner, Simon Chuol Biel, has denied his youth’s involvement on a raid into Rumbek North county on Saturday.
Biel claims since he came to power such similar case of raiding had been on hold among his youths in the county.
But the commissioner says cattle raiding threatens the lives of people across the Republic of South Sudan. He added that "as [a] government we need to create more jobs opportunities to our young people in order to lay down cattle raiding".
High dowries are believed to have driven young men to go and raids neighbouring communities in order that they can get married.
Jonglei state governor Kuol Mayang Juuk has publicly called on lawmakers to pass a law to reduce dowry prices nationwide.
In January Lakes state military caretaker governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol promised to improve security but communities in remote villages complain of not having enough protection for their livestock.
Dhuol in January toured the greater Yirol counties comprising Awerial, Yirol West, Yirol East and later held a rally in Rumbek East county his hometown telling people to register their arms. He has also set up military prisons in Langcok, Ajakangau (Ngatinga) and Pulkuc where youth suspected of cattle raiding, road robbery and other crimes have been held, often without charge and access to family and legal representation in violation of South Sudan’s constitution.
Activists and critical journalists have accuse the military guards of human rights abuses.
The Lakes state government has responded by harassing activists and journalists as well censoring local media houses in Rumbek who try to cover the issue.
“I am here to provide security to people of Lakes State and I need everyone to cooperate with. Whoever fails to meet my security objective to reform this state will be forced to resign from his post,” governor Dhuol has said.
Lakes state government has threaten to "crucify" critical journalists and activists if they continue to write negatively about state government’s activities.
"Those who are writing negatively about this state government will be crucified like Jesus Christ if we capture them", Lakes state’s deputy governor, Mabor Achol Kuer, said in April.