December 27 (JUBA) – At least 24 people, mostly civilians, have been killed in a tribal clash involving Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic communities in Jonglei state, authorities told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
Akot Mzee, a former Pibor county commissioner and a senior member of the South Sudan’s ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), said in an interview with Sudan Tribune that most areas in his home town of Pibor have been attacked, allegedly by members of his neighbouring Lou Nuer ethnic community.
“The Lou Nuer attacked Nyergeng village and all areas under Likuangole payam [district] on Monday”, Mzee told Sudan Tribune on Tuesday.
An anonymous security officer told Sudan Tribune a figure for the number killed is unavailable as the conflict is ongoing, but confirmed that at least 24 have died.
The Government of South Sudan (GoSS) on Tuesday said it has deployed more than 1,000 police personnel to Jonglei. The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) also said it was conducting air patrols in the affected areas.
Baba Medan Konyi, a member of the Jonglei State Legislative Assembly, also confirmed in separate interview with Sudan Tribune on Tuesday that Lou-Nuer youths attacked number of villages in Pibor county, including Nyergeng in Likuangole payam.
UNMISS said on 26 December its air patrols identified thousands of Lou-Nuer massing to attack the Murle communities in the area.
At the time of the interview Konyi said no security forces had been deployed to the affected areas. He appealed to both groups to end the violence.
Alison Manani Magaya, the country’s minister of interior said on Tuesday that more than 1,000 police men from Central Reserve Forces have been deployed to Jonglei state in a bid to prevent more violence between the two communities.
Magaya said some of them have already reached the state capital, Bor, from whence they will continue to Gadiang. He explained the difficulty faced in the fast deployment of troops when dealing with the state’s underdeveloped road network.
Hilde Johnson, the head of UNMISS, appealed to GoSS to act quickly in order to avert a “major tragedy”, and said the Mission has placed peacekeepers in the area and continues to conduct air patrols to try to help deter violence.
Johnson maintained that the responsibility to protect civilians lies with the government. “We are doing what we can within our mandate and capacities, but our resources and capacity are limited,” she said.