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Lou-Nuer armed youth enter Pibor town

December 31, 2011 (JUBA) – Armed members of the Lou-Nuer ethnic group today attacked Pibor town, home of the Murle tribe, in defiance of efforts by senior politicians to diffuse tension in Jonglei state’s Pibor county.

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Lou Nuer youth listen to VP Riek Machar at Linkuangole on Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011

Vice President, Riek Machar, and other senior members of the South Sudanese government met with the leaders of both groups this week to try and prevent further violence.

Around 3,000 armed Luo-Nuer men entered Pibor town today setting fire to houses, according to acting Pibor county commissioner Allan Keriri.

Eyewitnesses told Sudan Tribune that the Luo-Nuer youth control most of the town including the airport. They are also reported to have made the main county hospital their base inside the town.

Machar was still in Likwangole town 25 km from Pibor town trying to negotiate with the Luo-Nuer youth by phone when the attack occurred. The Luo-Nuer group took control over of Likwangole earlier this week.

On Wednesday, they told Machar in Likwangole that they would move out of Murle territory but the verbal agreement appears to have been dishonoured.

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Lou Nuer youth listen to VP Riek Machar at Linkuangole on Wednesday Dec. 28, 2011

The Luo-Nuer are reported to have entered Pibor town at around 3pm. Their leadership say that they will continue to capture Murle areas in search of 180 Luo-Nuer children they claim the Murle abducted in August.

The offensive is in response to an attack in August, blaimed on the Murle, in which around 700 Nuer were killed in Uror county.

In the August attack 861 were injured and 208 children kidnapped in an attack in Uror County, in the north of Jonglei state, according to officials, who estimated that nearly 8,000 were houses were burnt down and over 38,000 heads of cattle stolen.

This year over 1,000 people have died in Jonglei state in reciprocal attacks, which began as cattle raids but have escalated into retaliatory violence along ethnic lines.

It is unclear how many have died in the attacks this week but reports indicate that scores may have been killed. The UN estimate that over 20,000 have already been displaced by the Luo-Nuer offensive.

(ST)

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