JUBA, SOUTH SUDAN — Eleven Sudanese traders were killed by unknown gunmen as they crossed into South Sudan, just weeks after the two countries agreed to open 10 crossing points along their 1,200-mile (2,000-kilometer) border to boost the movement of goods and people, an official said Friday.
South Sudanese army spokesman Philip Aguer said gangsters were suspected of ambushing three trucks carrying Sudanese traders at Khorachier trading center, around 18 miles (30 kilometers) from Renk town.
“Three lorries fell into an ambush of unknown gangsters... These gangsters drove away two trucks. One truck got a mechanical problem and they left it beside the road,” Aguer said.
The attack marked the first time such a large number of traders have been killed along the border since South Sudan declared independence in July 2011.
The deadly attack occurred on Wednesday but only came to light after another group of truck drivers found the abandoned vehicle by the roadside, and reported it to the police in Renk town, Aguer said.
“The police reported the information to the SPLA which dispatched a unit and followed the trace of the trucks," Aguer said.
"After awhile, the SPLA caught up with these gangsters and they exchanged fire," but the 11 traders had already been killed, Aguer said.
Aguer blamed the attack on militia forces operating inside Sudan, who he said are opposed to peace with South Sudan.
Sudan closed the border following South Sudan’s independence in 2011, impacting traders and communities on both sides.
Doki Sudanese Traders Attacked