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February 11, 2013

South Sudan Rebels Blamed After Scores Killed

by Manyang David Mayar

Officials in South Sudan's Jonglei state on Monday blamed rebels led by David Yau Yau for killing more than 100 people, mostly women and children, in the deadliest cattle raid in the state in two years.

In the attack, which took place on Friday in Akobo county and was first reported over the weekend, a group of assailants, some dressed in military uniform, targeted members of the Lou Nuer community as they traveled to grazing lands on the Sobat River, Jonglei Governor Kuol Manyang Juuk said.

"They made the attack and managed to get away with a lot of cattle... leaving behind 103 people dead, most of them children and women," Manyang said.

Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers who were traveling with the cattle keepers fought back and killed 17 of the attackers, but lost 14 of their men.
 
Manyang and other state officials blamed rebels loyal to Yau Yau for the deadly attack.

Akobo County Commissioner, Goi Joyul, said survivors of the attack reported that the assailants used rocket-propelled grenades (RPGs), in addition to machetes and spears. According to the Geneva-based Small Arms Survey, the SPLA has captured RPGs from the Yau Yau rebellion in the past.

Yau Yau began his rebellion against Juba in 2010 after failing to win a seat in parliament in the Sudanese general elections. He accepted President Salva Kiir's offer of amnesty following South Sudan's independence in 2011, but re-launched his rebellion in April last year.

Hours before the attack, a group of traditional leaders and politicians had traveled to Pibor county, where Yau Yau is based,  to hold talks with the rebel leader to try to end the violence, Manyang said.

The attack was the deadliest reported in Jonglei state since the United Nations said 900 people were killed there in 2011, in violence that officials also linked to cattle rustling.