BENTIU, SOUTH SUDAN
— Security forces from Unity state in South Sudan have caught two suspected cattle raiders who are accused of killing a woman and two children when they attacked cattle keepers and stole their herd in a neighboring state, an official said Wednesday.
More than 50 head of cattle were recovered in the operation last week, which comes as a wave of deadly cattle raids sweeps parts of South Sudan.
“We have recovered 52 cows out of 57… and we have returned them to Rumbek North county,” in Lakes state, Mayiendit County Commissioner, Gideon Gatpan Thoar, said.
Five calves died in the hands of the raiders on the way from Lakes state to Mayiendit county, in the southern part of Unity state, he said.
Unity security forces were asked by the authorities in Lakes state to help in the hunt for the raiders, Thoar said.
Cows are a source of wealth in South Sudan and provide a livelihood for many. In some communities, young men must pay a dowry of cows to get married.
Cattle raids used to be carried out with traditional weapons, such as machetes and spears. But the proliferation of firearms after decades of civil war has led to the raids becoming more deadly.
Last week, more than 100 people were killed in a cattle raid in Jonglei state, and two cattle keepers were shot several times by raiders in Unity state who took more than 350 head of cattle.
Thoar called for more patrols to stop the increasingly deadly raids.
“We need to step up our patrolling system for our security forces to make sure they don’t allow pockets or areas where these criminals can hide themselves,” he said.
But officials say South Sudan’s poor infrastructure and lack of roads make it difficult for security forces to patrol along state borders to prevent the raids.