At least three people were reported to have been killed early Tuesday and between 20 and 30 homes were torched when South Sudanese soldiers went on a rampage overnight in the town of Chukudum, in Eastern Equatoria state.
“There was a patrol taking place in Chukudum by the soldiers. Yesterday, at around 9 p.m., I think they met with unknown gunmen and they exchanged gunfire and one of the soldiers was killed instantly," Chukudum resident Lopoyok Agostino told South Sudan in Focus by phone from the town.
"Then, in the middle of the night, the soldiers started shooting in their barracks and this morning they came into the community and started burning the houses," he said.
Smoke rises from homes in the village of Chukudum after a rampage by soldiers on Tuesday, Oct. 7, 2014, claimed at least three lives.
Lopoyok, who works with a humanitarian organization in the area, said at least 500 frightened locals, many of them women and children, have sought refuge at the town's Community Development Support Office compound. Many others fled into the bush when the fighting erupted.
Lopoyok's pregnant daughter was beaten when soldiers attacked her home Monday morning, he said.
“The situation is still tense and people are really fearing to get into their homes," he said.
Lopoyok said two of the victims of the clashes were local residents. The third victim was the soldier who was shot during the patrol. Local member of parliament, Joseph Lokodo, confirmed the attacks but refused to comment until he arrives in Chukudum.