South Sudan Says Road Raid That Killed 127 Was Ethnically Based

South Sudan’s government vowed action after more than 127 civilians were killed on a southern highway over the weekend by armed groups seen as targeting members of the country’s largest ethnic group.

Gunmen killed passengers traveling to South Sudan’s capital, Juba, on Oct. 8 because they belonged to the Dinka community, presidential spokesman Ateny Wek Ateny said Tuesday by phone. The three-truck convoy was carrying more than 200 people who’d left Yei town because of recent violence and were seeking sanctuary, he said.

A Dinka man was also separated from other passengers and killed during an attack on three buses on another highway on Monday, according to Ateny. He condemned the killings and said the government is working on “mechanisms” to deal with the issue, declining to give details.

Oil-producing South Sudan descended into a civil war in December 2013 that’s left tens of thousands of people dead and forced more than 2 million from their homes. The conflict, which began as a power struggle within the African nation’s ruling party, was partly ethnically driven and pitted members of President Salva Kiir’s Dinka community and others against his former deputy, Riek Machar, and fighters mainly belonging to his Nuer ethnic group.

Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang on Monday put the death toll from the Oct. 8 attack at more than 30.

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