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Jonglei: Minister says Murle raiders include SPLA defectors

January 12, 2012 (BOR) – A local minister in South Sudan’s beleaguered state of Jonglei has alleged that Murle ethnic raiders who allegedly killed more than 40 people during a fresh round of revenge attacks include defectors from the country’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).

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Internally displaced people, Pibor county, Jonglei state (OCHA)

South Sudan emerged as an independent state in July last year following years of political and military struggle with north Sudan. But the new and grossly underdeveloped country has plunged into an episode of violence that saw a number of rebel groups rising and rival tribal communities engaging in mutual atrocities over cattle rustling.

Jonglei State has been the scene of violent raids and counter raids between the Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic communities.

The attacks, which began on 23 December with the Lou Nuer attacking Murle’s homeland in Pibor county and subsequent revenge attacks by the latter, has left 1,000 dead and 60,000 displaced, according to UN figures.

The most recent attack was reported on Thursday by Wek boma [small district] local administrator, Tip Chuol, who told Sudan Tribune that youth from the Murle at 5 pm local time on Wednesday attacked Uror county, targeting Wek and Panyok villages in Tiam payam [district]. Tiam is a north-westerly district of Uror, a large county in the centre of Jonglei state.

“The attackers are not only armed civilians but included SPLA defectors from the Murle,” said Rachael Nyadak Pual, Jonglei state minister of labour and public services.

Nyadak, who is also MP for Uror county in Jonglei state assembly, spoke to reporters from airstrip at Bor, the state capital, before heading to Wek and Panyok in Tiam ayam [district].

The Pibor county commissioner, Joshua Konyi, said that conflict between the ethnic groups left 3,000 dead; a figure described as baseless by the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and Head of the UN Mission in the Republic of South Sudan (UNMISS), Hilde Johnson.

Akobo county commissioner, Goi Joyol, told Sudan Tribune on Wednesday that Tuesday’s counter raid by the Murle near the UNMISS base in Padoi, Akobo, continued until early hours of Wednesday and left eight dead. Akobo is in the east of Jonglei.

Uror county commissioner, Simon Hoth Dol, told the Sudan Tribune on Thursday that Wednesday’s attack left 41 people dead, including head chief, Jany Lual,

Another Uror county MP in Jonglei state assembly, Mabior Bol, told journalists later that over sixty people are dead. The figures could not be independently verified as the area is remote and residents could not be contacted by phone.

MPs and Dol traveled to the scene to assess the damages on Thursday.