South Sudan ethnic clashes claim 74 livesBy MACHEL AMOS in Juba | Sunday, January 29 2012 at 16:42
At least 74 people were reported dead on Sunday in fresh ethnic clashes between rival communities in two neighbouring states in South Sudan.
The fighting took place on Saturday when armed youths from Mayendit County in Unity state attacked Tonj East County in the neighboring Warrap state, deputy Interior minister Gen Salva Mathok Gengdit said.
"They attacked and killed 74, four of which are soldiers and the rest civilians, many of them women and children,” Gen Mathok said.
The soldier said the attackers penetrated the area at ease, shooting on the civilians as they plunder property.
"There was no fighting because those people in Tonj are disarmed,” he said, adding that the police were dispatched to the area but found many had already been killed.
"They attacked the area and all fled randomly in disarray. Even children were abandoned,” Gen Mathok said.
However, a local official in the state said the casualty figures were higher.
"They killed more than 90 people. They killed children, women and youth, and took cattle,” Deng Madut Deng, the ruling party youth leader in Warrap state told a USAID-sponsored radio station.
The communities in Warrap and Unity states have longstanding hostilities arising from multiple cattle raiding and counter-raiding.
After South Sudan’s independence in July last year, both states were tasked to conduct a uniform disarmament exercise to pave way for a peaceful settlement.
But the governors of the two states later traded accusations, with the Warrap state governor Mrs Nyandeng Malek blaming her counterpart Mr Taban Deng of failing to implement the order.
Ethnic hostilities have ravaged South Sudan since independence. Having claimed thousands of lives so far, the hostilities pose a potential threat to stability of the Africa’s infant nation.
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