At least 26 killed in South Sudan attacks

Sunday May 16 2021

South Sudan National Police Service (SSNPS) officers sit on the back of a pickup truck while they gather ahead of patrolling the streets of Juba, South Sudan on April 9, 2020. PHOTO/AFP

By Daily Nation

Separate incidents of inter-communal clashes and road attacks in some parts of South Sudan have left at least 26 people dead, according to local reports.

Local media reported that the violence on Friday night saw civilians killed in an orgy of attacks.

A cattle rustling incident in Kuac County of Unity State left at least eleven people dead while a similar incident in Reweng Administrative Area on the same day left at least six people killed.

Meanwhile, in the Equatoria region, road ambushes in Western and Central Equatoria States left a total of nine people killed as well.

One incident involved an ambush on the Central Equatoria governor’s envoy, where two of his guards were killed by armed men said to be part of a rebel group.

Authorities in Western Equatoria also accused the same rebel group, the National Salvation Front (NAS), of being being an incident in Maridi County that claimed five lives.


NAS has not claimed the insurgences.

Delayed peace deal
Reacting to the occurrences, Malir Peter Biar, who heads Christian Agency for Peace and Development – a civic education, human right advocacy and peace building organisation - blamed the continued attacks on slow implementation of the 2018 peace accord.

“The agreement mandated all parties to it to engage with the public by carrying out dialogues and sensitising them on the peace deal. It also stipulated unification of all forces and disbarment, but none of this has been done," said Mr Biar.

“You can also see the slow formation of State governments, which are supposed to handle local issues related to gun-violence. These gaps are aiding the killings, which [signal] a big failure of the unity government."

He advised the presidency to immediately come up with a road map which clearly states how it will tackle insurgency across the country.

Guns in hands of civilians
Last month, a report by the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) attributed the continued grassroots conflicts and insecurity to the presence of arms in the hands of civilians.

In July last year, President Salva Kiir launched a disarmament campaign across the country in an attempt to end the cycle of violence in restive states.

The campaign targeted armed civilians in Lakes, Terekeka, Warrap and Jonglei, among other areas.

But a survey released recently by a national civil society organisation, working to reduce and prevent gun violence across the country, said some communities rejected President Kiir’s conflict resolution initiative, saying it leaves some communities vulnerable to others.

What communities want
According to consultations by the South Sudan Action Network on Small Arms, communities say it is not sensible for some to be left armed.

This, they say, can leave some communities vulnerable to others as those unreached in the disarmament efforts will use the opportunity to steal cattle and other belongings, and put their lives in danger.

Communities in Jonglei, Lakes, Eastern Equatoria and Warrap States recommend the destruction of arms and ammunition collected from the public in order to avoid their flow back to civilians' hands.

They also appealed to the government to create mechanisms that monitor, document, report and bring to justice members of forces that may abuse civilians during the process of civilian disarmament.

The armed civilians further said that for the disbarment exercise to be successful, there is a need for plans to register, store and dispose of the recovered arms to ensure they don’t spill back to communities.