The Jonglei state government has confirmed reports of fighting between security forces and the Jiye community in the Boma area. Details remain unclear, but a Jiye village was reportedly burnt to the ground earlier this week by security forces.
There has been no access to the area to determine the true extent of the casualties and damage.
The Jonglei state government says the fighting started after the Jiye raided cattle from the neighboring Toposa tribe in Eastern Equatoria state.
The Southern army, the SPLA, reportedly confiscated the cattle, and were attacked by Jiye youth, killing one SPLA soldier and a policeman. In retaliation, a joint SPLA and police force burned the homes of one Jiye community.
In an interview, the State minister of Law enforcement Mr. Gabriel Duop Lam confirmed the clashes, but denied that any Jiye civilians were killed.
“There was a cattle raiding between the community of Jiye in Jonglei State and a community of Taposa in Eastern Equatoria State,” he said.
“The government of Eastern Equatoria ordered the recollection of those cows. Before the cows were returned the youth of Jiye mobilized themselves and went and raided some cattle from the Toposa .
When the cattle arrived automatically our small police force was joined together with the SPLA to collect the cattle. The Jiye youth attacked the force and killed one SPLA and one policeman and took away the cattle.
When the (security) force revenged, some village, like three houses, were burned down to ash after they killed one person from the SPLA. We are preparing next week to go and assess the security situation in the area. I hope we will find realistic information on ground so we should not depend on allegations”.
These claims by the State minister of law enforcement could not be independently verified due to the inaccessibility of Boma area and the fact that the Jiye community has no representation in the state legislative assembly or any other senior government position.
Some reports suggest there were heavy casualties of women and children in the Jiye village that was burned and that the Jiye survivors have fled into neighboring hills. These reports could also not be independently confirmed.
There was no access to medical treatment for those involved in the fighting.
The Jiye is a small minority tribe that lives in the Boma area in southeastern Jonglei, wedged between the bigger Murle to the north and Toposa to the south. The area is known for fierce cattle rustling, and they are all warrior societies.
Given the remoteness of their area and the lack of education or development there, the Jiye wield very little power in state politics or national security services.