September 12, 2013 (RUMBEK) - Authorities in Lakes state’s Rumbek North county have reported that clashes erupted between cattle herding groups on Saturday.
Five people were wounded after South Sudan’s army [the SPLA] intervened, Rumbek North county’s information officer, Peter Makuei Tinjok, told Sudan Tribune.
The clashes were between the Gak and Lith ethnic groups, from the districts of Alor and Meen respectively. Tinjok said that the army, under the direction of the county commissioner, was attempting to address the insecurity and to collect firearms from civilians.
After the army intervened five people were injured, two of which were admitted to Rumbek civil hospital "in critical condition”.
Eyewitness told Sudan Tribune that there was concern in the area that the military’s presence in Rumbek North county had weakened county activities. They also accused the army of acting unprofessionally towards civilians.
A resident, who requested anonymity, claimed that the army had over reacted by opening fire in a civilian area to break up a small fight between two men over a "little family related matter".
Lakes state’s military caretaker governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol has ordered counties to return all cattle raided from neighbouring Unity state. However, this demand has been met by the demand that cattle raided from Lakes state also be returned.
The witness to Saturday’s clashes said that "freedom is very limited" in cattle herding areas of Rumbek North county after they were disarmed as the army has remained to search for more weapons.
The soldiers in the area "threaten us and they are eating out food, our goats, and people, especially youth are being abused daily and we have not freedom to express ourselves to [the Lakes] state government", he said.
"Our cattle are being raided by Unity state pastoralists and the Lakes state government could not return back our cows, now our state government order us to return the few cows were had raided from Unity state."