Sudan: Gunmen kill 7 people in Bor as disarmament continues

News and Press Release
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By Philip Thon Aleu

January 12, 2010 (BOR) - Gunmen, local people claim to be Murle tribesmen, killed seven people since the break of New Year in Bor County, Jonglei as disarmament cover the state's host County.

Destroyed huts are seen in the southern Sudanese village of Duk-Padiet, which suffered recent fighting, in southern Sudan Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2009. (Timothy Mckulka-UNMIS) Among the dead two students of Werkok Secondary School, three women and two men, Sudan Tribune has learnt. The students were attacked last Friday on their way from Kapat to Werkok Boma, about 12 milesand eastern Bor Town, after attending a church meeting there. One student died on spot while the other passed away on Sunday at Bor civil hospital, relatives say.

Sources in Makalcuei, also close to Werkok, say two women mowing grass in east of the village were found dead on Thursday a day after being reported missing.

Eyewitness says their remains show that the assailants used knife to slaughter them. A similar observation has been reported for a women killed by raiders in Pariak area, Kolnyang Payam last Saturday. In Kolnyang raiders drove away over forty cattle.

In Makuach Payam, two men were killed in separate attacks on December 31, 2009, the January 2, 2010 attack brings the death tolls to seven in less than two weeks in the New Year 2010. A man identified as Mabior Deng was injured and is being nursed at Bor Civili Hospital.

The names of the deceases are held back in accordance to Dinka Bor custom of death announcement.

The attacks on civilians and cattle raiding coincide with on-going disarmament that has already covered Duk, Twic East and Bor Counties. A similar guns retrieving is also reported in Uror, Ayod and Nyirol Counties.

Since the disarmament commenced early last December, thousands of arms have being peacefully handed-in. However, civilians say the Sudan People Liberation Army - Division 8 has aggravated the voluntary process by harassing civilians.

A man was shot and injured in Pariak last week for allegedly giving gun with barrel aiming at the soldiers. A similar assault on civilians by organized forces has being reported in Twic East.

Sudan Tribune cannot independently verify that SPLA is using excessive force during this disarmament. However, past evident in Jonglei disarmament and elsewhere in the south pines SPLA soldiers of shooting armed civilians.

Bor County Commissioner Maker Lual Kuol confirmed to the Sudan Tribune at his office on Monday that attacks on civilians has increased in recent days "but disarmament must continue" to end scapegoat from neighbors that Bor people are holding back their guns.

Mr. Maker says neighboring Murle, for instance, may resist disarmament if Bor isn't.

The commissioner says about 600 guns have being collect in the last few days but says "we are still receiving more information."

On atrocities committed by raiders, the commissioner says the death toll could be even higher since some incidents could not be timely communicated to his office given poor communication networks.

Meanwhile the disarmament exercise has angered local youth with others terming it as "politicized strategy" that leaves civilians unprotected. An angry youth shouted to a group of reporters waiting to receive names of SPLM nominees for next April elections on Sunday that "when you meet the [Jonglei] state Governor, ask him 'why is SPLA is taking gunning but does not provide security?"

Jonglei state suffered bloodiest time in 2009 in cattle raiding, attacks on administrative centers and child abduction among the Murle, Dinka and Nuer were more than 1,000 people died. The state and South Sudan government blame the worsening security to guns owned by civilians since the signing of Comprehensive Peace Agreement 5 years ago.

Southern Sudan authorities - under the leadership of former rebels the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) also swiftly accuse peace partner, the National Congress Party (NCP) of supporting former militia in the south so it depicts that "the south cannot govern itself."

But the semi-autonomous government carries great responsibilities to ensure civilians safety, according to activist and aids organization.

In a recent report on Jonglei's Tribal conflict International Crisis Group says "The Government of South Sudan should make police reform a greater priority, as they are unable to address domestic security threats."

"It must recognise the primarily local nature of the conflicts, extend state authority, and prove itself a credible provider of security lest violence become an obstacle on the road to self-determination and beyond," explains Zach Vertin, Crisis Group's Horn of Africa analyst.