Clashes between armed groups and civilians in South Sudan’s Lakes state over the weekend left at least 157 people dead, a local official said.
Sixty other people were injured in Sunday’s violence, sparked by raids by armed groups on four cattle camps in Rumbek North, local Information Minister Dhieu Wal Takpiny said by phone from the central region’s state capital, Rumbek. He said the assailants were rebels loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, citing their tactic of shelling with mortars and the uniforms worn by those slain. Lony T. Ngundeng, a spokesman for Machar’s insurgent forces, said they weren’t involved in the hostilities.
“We lost 25 people in the attack, including a few children and the elderly,” Takpiny said. Officials counted the bodies of 132 assailants, only one of whom wasn’t in army uniform, he said. Military spokesman Philip Aguer said he didn’t have any information about the violence.
Takpiny said the raiders also seized cattle. Communities in Lakes state have previously fought over grazing land. In mid-March, about 80 people died in intercommunal violence, which Takpiny said was “a continuation of revenge killings” that have occurred in the area since 2012.