BOR, SOUTH SUDAN - Armed men attacked a village in South Sudan’s Jonglei state Thursday night, killing 10 people in a continuance of the intercommunal violence that has wracked the area for months.
The attackers killed 10 civilians and abducted three people, including a child, said Alfred Zulu, a U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) official in the state capital, Bor.
Chol Alier Mach, a witness to the fighting who was shot in the chest, said a group of about 50 armed men in mixed military uniforms attacked Makuach village.
“These armed men surrounded the village. They started by shooting us and I was the first to be shot, and that’s how the fighting started. If they see you, then many people chase after you until they catch and kill you,” Mach, 44, told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus.
Two treated for gunshot wounds
There were no cattle in the village, said Mach. “There were only goats, but they didn’t take the goats, I think they came only to kill people,” Mach said.
Two people hurt in the Makuach attack were being treated for gunshot wounds at the Bor Civil Hospital, according to Bol Chau, director of the hospital.
“Two adult males were brought last night from Makuach. One had a fracture and the other had a retained bullet in the abdomen. He was just taken to the theater where the bullet was removed,” Chau said.
Deadly intercommunal violence has been escalating for months in the area, said Zulu, who is the UNMISS human rights field officer in Bor.
“Abductions of women and children is a common practice in the areas. It has been going on for generations, but we need to stop it. And it’s a violation of the rights of the children and the rights of women. They are traumatized; they are taken to where they don’t know. They lose their identity, they lose contact with their family, some of them are tortured, others are abused every day, every week, every month,” Zulu told South Sudan in Focus.
Armed youth to blame?
Jonglei state acting administrator Mabior Atem said local officials believe armed youth from the Greater Pibor Administrative Area were behind this latest attack.
“A group of youth whom the local authorities believe to be coming from Pibor came to Makuach payam and attacked the town,” he said. He put the death toll at nine: seven women and two men. He said only one person was abducted.
State authorities are doing what they can to protect people and installations around Bor but may need help, said Jonglei state Police Commissioner Joseph Mayen Akoon.
“So we, the security in Bor town, we are ready [for] even the army to protect the installations in Bor,” Akoon said.
UNMISS chief David Shearer told VOA this week that hundreds of people have been killed in intercommunal, “tit-for-tat" fighting that has raged in Jonglei state for two weeks. He expressed hope that a deal for South Sudan’s political parties to appoint governors in Jonglei and the other nine states would help establish lines of authority that bring order to the region.