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SPLA clashes kill 10 people in Lakes state

January 11, 2013 (JUBA) - A cattle herding group in Cueibet County of Lakes State clashed with soldiers from South Sudan’s army (SPLA) on Friday, resulting in the death of seven soldiers and three civilians from neighbouring Warrap State.

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Young men herd cattle through the mud-caked streets of Pibor, South Sudan (AP)

Isaac Mayom Malek, the Commissioner of Cueibet County confirmed the clash, saying it occurred in an attempt by soldiers to recover some cattle stolen last year from Warrap.

"Soldiers from a platoon entered Malul-chum cattle camp in Tiap Tiap payam [district] to try and release cattle that had been looted last year from Warrap state. So the civilian there fought with the soldiers, which resulted to death of seven soldiers and three civilians," Malek told Sudan Tribune.

Eye witnesses, however, said the incident turned bloody after Gok Dinka youth at the cattle camp reportedly resisted the commissioner’s order to handover the cattle.

Lakes State’s government has sent reinforcements to the area, while its Governor Chol Tong Mayay has tasked, Benjamin Makuer Mabor, the state’s local government and law enforcement minister and the area army commander to investigate the deaths.

Phillip Aguer, the spokesperson of the southern army was not immediately available to comment on the matter.

This is not first clash have occurred between the army and the Gok Dinka. In February 2010, the Gok Dinka paramount chief Jok Dau Kachuol was killed at his court premises in Cueibet County reportedly in crossfire between armed members of the Gok Dinka and the SPLA.

In April 2011, South Sudanese President Salva Kiir Mayardit ordered an immediate investigation and set up a committee into the circumstances around the paramount chief’s death.

However, almost two years later, the investigation team has not made any public announcement about the incident.