JUBA - Five people were killed and at least three others injured in two separate incidents when unidentified gunmen attacked passenger vehicles Monday and Tuesday along the Torit-Kapoeta Road, according to state officials in the South Sudanese town of Torit.
A medical worker at Torit Civil Hospital said some of the injured are listed in critical condition.
Eyewitnesses said that in the first incident Monday, gunmen shot at a passenger vehicle near the small village of Tuhubak, 30 kilometers from Torit on the Torit-Kapoeta Road, killing the driver.
They said some of the passengers narrowly escaped death by jumping out of the moving vehicle and running into the bush.
A woman who survived said the attackers stole everything from the vehicle, including money and luggage.
"It was around 10 p.m. when they started shooting at us,” said the woman, who did not want to be identified for fear of retaliation. “They shot the driver and he fell down, and the vehicle continued to move for some distance. When it stopped, all of us got out and fled into the bush.
“When the attackers came, they were calling for people to come out, but no one did so. I had my sister's child, who cried and the attackers came and caught me. They took everything from me and those in the vehicle."
The woman said she could not identify the men because it was too dark.
In the second incident Tuesday, unknown gunmen shot at a Land Cruiser in an area called Idolu on the same road, approximately 10 kilometers from Torit. The driver was transporting passengers to Kapoeta.
Eyewitnesses said four people were killed on the spot, and three others — including a child — were wounded and are recovering at Torit Civil Hospital.
Wednesday, anxious residents crowded around the entrance to the hospital's mortuary, hoping their loved ones were not among the five dead.
Major General Edward Dimitiri Lokak, the Imotong State Police Commissioner, said security forces are working to prevent further attacks on the Torit-Kapoeta Road, but did not specify what measures are being taken.
The main road is about 100 kilometers north of Uganda and links the newly created Imotong state to Kenya. It is one of the new states unilaterally created by South Sudanese President Salva Kiir when he expanded the number of states from 10 to 28.