September 17, 2013 (RUMBEK) – A surprise forceful disarmament by local authorities in Rumbek, the Lakes state capital Tuesday left two people dead, according to local reports.
Four people reportedly sustained gunshot wounds and have been admitted in Rumbek civilian hospital.
South Sudan army (SPLA) forces reportedly carried out the forceful exercise, the latest in a campaign initiated by the state governor, Matur Chut Dhuol.
Local residents accused the soldiers of hastily opening fire on cattle herders, whom they suspect of carrying weapons.
Dut Makoi Kuok, the Lakes state minister of information and communication says the state government decided to launch the forceful disarmament campaign across Rumbek Central county after citizens refused to surrender their guns.
"People decided to resist the process, so the state government has decided to take guns by force because we have told people through radio, but only about 200 guns were surrendered", Kuok said.
He did not, however, explain which law authorises soldiers to shoot dead civilians.
Many cattle owners claim that they need their weapons to protect their livestock and the family from raids by neighbouring groups.
The fear that the government will not provide adequate security after disarmament has taken place is a common theme in the many attempts made to disarm cattle herding communities in South Sudan.
An eyewitness, who requested anonymity, said soldiers appeared at their compound in Cuei-adukan and "opened gunfire on us" killing two men.
He identified those killed as Mayeny Riak Muorjok and Maluoc Makur Maluoc, both hailing from Rumbek Central county.
Another eyewitness told Sudan Tribune said Tuesday’s incident took place in a "very organised manner"
He said that they were beaten, harassed and had their properties stolen by people in "military uniforms nwho appeared to be members of South Sudan’s army (SPLA)".
"They told us that they are looking for everything, guns and person to be killed," the eyewitness said, alleging the soldiers claimed they acted on the governor’s instructions.
Another resident said soldiers carried away bodies of those killed during the scuffle.
"One man had refused to surrender his gun and so he was shot while sitting with his wife in his house", the resident, who preferred anonymity, said.
Chol Makur Mangek, another citizen, claimed his money and military uniform was taken away by the soldiers task with carrying out the forceful disarmament.
"What happened in Rumbek Central county today, people are calling it disarmament but it is not in its place. I can call them looters because they have taken away my three pairs of military uniform, Thuraya and 1,500 SSP for my children at my house in Makoi John residential area", Mangek claimed.
Sudan Tribune could independently verify these claims from eyewitness and efforts to get a reaction from the governor’s office were unsuccessful.