At least 38 people have been killed in armed cattle raiding between two rivaling tribes in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, officials said on Friday.
Jonglei state governor, Kuol Manyang Juuk, said the raiders, suspected to be elements within the Murle tribe of Pibor County in the state, attacked Uror County at dawn on Thursday and overran the villages.
He said the Lou-Nuer inhabiting Pieri village where the fighting was concentrated resisted, resulting into an outright violent confrontation.
“They attacked these villages and over ran them. The Lou fighters had to regroup themselves and fight back. They have gone with unknown number of cattle and there are reports that children and women were abducted,” Kuol said.
The number of dead is expected to rise as a clearer picture of what happened is brought to light.
“They buried 38 bodies in Pierri and there are still also bodies around the town of Pieri which are yet to be collected. So the number might go well beyond 30, beyond 40 and wounded are now evacuated by MSF,” Kuol said.
“When fighting is taking place, it is difficult to round up people immediately, it takes time to know but 60 were reported wounded and the number is likely to increase,” he added.
The two tribes have a long history of fighting each other over cattle. The recent such violent incident was when the Lou-Nuer attacked the Murle weeks in June, resulting into death of at least 68 people.
Police in the area were unable to halt the fighting. “We had no police. The small police in the area could not even stop this attack and could not challenge the attackers and may be the police have lost their lives also,” Kuol said. Pibor County MPs in the national parliament said they were not aware their youths had gone to raid and said those involved should be treated as individual criminals.