February 1, 2014 (JUBA) - At least 42 people have been confirmed dead in South Sudan following an attack on two separate areas in Warrap state’s Tonj North county, local officials and residents said on Saturday.
- South Sudan’s Warrap state highlighted in red
Armed gunmen reportedly carried out simultaneous attacks on Friday in Juer in the Alabek payam in Lou Mawien Ariik and Keng in the Aliek payam in the Kongor area.
Thirty-five people, mostly women with children and the elderly, were killed in Juer at about 2am, with another 10 wounded in the attack.
Seven people were confirmed dead and 21 others injured after a separate attack in Keng, with some of the dead losing their lives before they were able to reach a local medical clinic for treatment, witnesses told Sudan Tribune on Saturday.
Multiple sources also said an unknown number of cattle had also been driven away or raided by the assailants during the attacks.
It remains unclear who carried out the attacks and the armed group allied to former vice-president Riek Machar, currently leading an armed rebellion in the country, has not yet claimed any responsibility.
However, local officials claimed the attacks appeared to be coordinated and were carried out by a well-armed group dressed in military uniforms.
Officials from communities bordering Unity State have repeatedly accused the Warrap state government under the leadership of Nyandeng Malek - the sole female governor in the country – of failing to engage with the central government in Juba or adequately protect the civilian population.
Malek has also faced criticism for an ineffectual disarmament campaign, particularly in the so-called triangle areas straddling Lakes, Unity and Warrap states, where an illegal arms business continues to thrive.
Gogrial East county commissioner Wol Anei Anei said he had been briefed on the attack, but did not provide further details.
“We heard that there was attack yesterday. We will give you more details once we get them. What we have now is the report of 42 people killed and more others are wounded”, Anei said on Saturday.
The commissioner denied that governor Nyandeng had failed to provide adequate security.
“Some cows have been recovered when youth and the police received the information and run after the attackers. This was because the government was quick to share the information and mobilised resources. The youth also managed to capture more weapons, including RPGs and some light guns”, he said.
However, local legislators and residents claimed none of the lost cattle had so far been recovered, despite attempts by the home guard.
They claimed that the response to the attack had been slow and that the attackers had long since fled by the time youth were mobilised.