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March 18, 2013

Sudan Nomads Return Cattle Rustled in South Sudan

by Bonifacio Taban

Sudanese nomads have returned scores of cattle raided from pastoralists in South Sudan in what officials say is a first by the Sudanese Misseriya since the two sides signed agreements in June last year.

The Misseriya returned 140 head of cattle taken in a raid in Mayom County last month, officials said.

The Misseriya are suspected of being behind two separate cattle raids last month in Unity state, in which several hundred head of cattle were stolen and three people were killed.

The return of the cattle came nine months after the South Sudanese Nuer and the Misseriya from Sudan signed several agreements, stipulating that the Arab nomads are allowed to freely graze cattle and conduct trade in Unity state in South Sudan, and that any stolen livestock must be returned to its owners.

It was a first for the Sudanese nomads. In January, the Nuer returned cattle taken from the Misseriya.
Cattle raids have riven east Africa, including once-unified Sudan, for decades. But the attacks became more deadly after the civil war in Sudan, which ended in 2005, brought an influx of firearms to the region.

Scores of South Sudanese have been killed in cattle raids so far this year, including more than 100 in a raid in Jonglei state in January.

Cattle are highly prized in South Sudan as a source of wealth and as a dowry to the family of a bride-to-be.