UN says cattle raiding behind South Sudan massacre

AP News
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Posted: Feb 03, 2012 12:10 PM
UN says cattle raiding behind South Sudan massacre

A U.N. staff member was shot during a clash that broke out as officials met to discuss a weekend cattle raid massacre that left 78 people dead, including many women and children, U.N. officials said Friday.

The Wednesday meeting between U.N. and local officials to discuss the incident was broken up when armed men believed to be members of the South Sudanese Army and the South Sudan Police Service "started shooting indiscriminately," Kouider Zerrouk, the spokesman for the U.N. peacekeeping mission in Sudan, said.

The staff member wounded in the incident was evacuated along with seven other personnel and is in stable condition in Juba.

There are conflicting reports of the toll of the clash. Lakes state Governor Chol Tong Mayay said 21 security personnel and 3 civilians from Lakes state were killed in the attack. Mayay said an investigation would be launched into the incident.

South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July and is struggling to contain internal violence that has plagued the region for years.

The Saturday attack targeting a cattle camp in Warrap state also wounded 72 people and left nine missing, the U.N.'s High Commissioner for Human Rights said Friday. Most of the killing appeared to have been inflicted by machetes and about three quarters of the dead were reportedly women and children, spokesman Robert Colville said.

The attackers massacre have not yet been identified but crossed over from Unity state, apparently targeting another tribe, Colville said. The area's remoteness and insecurity make it "very hard to investigate" such incidents, he said.

The Warrap attack was the latest in a series of cattle raids since December. Ongoing raids between Nuer, Murle and Dinka communities have killed hundreds and the United Nations estimates over 120,000 people have been affected in Jonglei state alone.

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Michael Onyiego contributed to this report from Juba, South Sudan.