South Sudan

Death toll rises in Rumbek clashes between pastoralists

May 26, 2014 (RUMBEK) – A police source in Lakes state said on Monday that clashes between the rival counties of Rumbek North (Maper) and Cueibet have killed 156 people between 21 and 23 May due to cattle raiding and revenge attacks.

The officer from Criminal Investigation Department (CID) said that there have been heavy losses of life in Cueibet county, especially in the Waat and Panyar sections. Many people are still missing having fled into the bush to escape the violence.

“So far, only Panyar section has 124 people dead and Waat section has 30 people dead which brought total to 154 people confirmed killed” in the three days of fighting, he said.

The officer, who requested anonymity, stated that apart from six civilians who were killed on Wednesday 21 in the remote village of Pagor, there is little information about the identities of the people who are reported to have been killed.

Cueibet county commissioner, Isaac Mayom Malek, said: “Upon their return with cows the Cueibet youths had raided, they immediately fell in an ambush and they were scatted into small numbers. We don’t know who is dead or who is alive”.

Police insist that young people and the wider public are refusing to share information with them, blaming the poor relationship between the administration and the people of Lakes state.

Moses Ater, an activist in Lakes state asked that the military caretaker Governor Maj-Gen Matur Chut Dhuol to stand down, accusing Dhuol to have failed to quell the insecurity.

Governor Dhoul was installed in January 2012 after his predecessor was sacked for failing to maintain security.

Lakes state has been blighted by cattle raiding since South Sudan’s independence in July 2011 and continues to be locked in a cycle of inter-clan revenge clashes.

Youth activists and traditional authorities have repeatedly called for the removal of governor Dhuol amid claims he has failed to stem the violence. President Salva Kiir Mayardit has so far overlooked the calls.

Lakes state’s Dinka youth have refused to join military forces recruited to fight against the rebels led by former vice president Riek Machar who are mainly from the Nuer ethnic group, leading to increased tensions with the state and central government in Juba.

Fighting between the government and rebels has killed thousands and displaced over a million people.

In April, a group of activist and civil society groups in the Lakes state capital, Rumbek, put more pressure on the caretaker governor Dhuol, calling on him to resign over the way he has run the state since he was appointed in January 2012.

In a separate incident on Sunday, a wild officer in Rumbek Central county, Mayen Muorwel Abergut, was ambushed and gunned down between in Pacong payam (district) of Rumbek East county by a group of unknown gunmen on his way to his home village.

An eye witness told Sudan Tribune that “Mayen was killed by a group of four people while on motorcycle." He added that "the group opened fire on Mayen and walked around him to confirm he is dead", adding that they "left him dead" and "ran away towards [the] cattle camp”.

The assassination ambush took placed only two kilometres away from the house of governor Dhuol.