More than 100 civilians and soldiers were killed on Feb. 8 by anti-government militia fighters and cattle raiders in Southern Sudan’s Jonglei state, according to State Governor Kuol Manyang and military spokesman Philip Aguer.
Cattle herders from the Lou Nuer tribe and an army platoon that was accompanying them were attacked as they travelled from their wet season home to the Sobat River, where they water their cattle during the dry season, the officials said. The attack was carried out by uniformed fighters of a militia group led by David Yau Yau and members of his Murle tribe who weren’t wearing uniforms, the officials said.
“It was a huge force that attacked, leaving 103 people dead, mostly children and women,” Manyang said by phone today from Bor, the state capital. Fourteen soldiers were killed, including the platoon commander, as well as 17 of the attackers, Aguer said from Juba, Southern Sudan’s capital.
Yau Yau, a former theology student and candidate for governor, defected from the army last year and launched a rebellion. South Sudan’s army said 24 of its soldiers died in an Aug. 23 ambush by the militia group.
Ethnic and militia violence in Jonglei, an eastern state bordering Ethiopia where Total SA has a stake in an oil exploration concession, has marred Southern Sudan’s independence from Sudan. The country seceded in July 2011 after a referendum that was part of a peace deal which ended a two-decade civil war. Southern Sudanese authorities accused Sudan of airdropping weapons to the militia within sight of a United Nations peacekeeping mission post in Pibor County on Sept. 22.
UN peacekeeping mission spokesman Kouider Zerrouk said that while peacekeepers saw a “white, fixed-wing aircraft” drop as many as eight packages, the UN couldn’t identify the contents or who dropped them. Sudan’s army has denied supporting Yau Yau or any rebel group in South Sudan.