The weekend inter-ethnic attack that has left dozens of women and children dead near Akobo in Southern Sudan's Jonglei State demonstrated the urgent need to disarm communities in the region, an official said.
"The attackers targeted people who were looking for food," a local NGO worker in Akobo told IRIN on 3 August. "Many of the injured have gunshot and panga [machete] wounds."
Following the 2 August attack, he added, some people were moving west of Akobo town or towards the Ethiopian border, where they hope they can be safer and "find something to eat".
Aid workers in Juba, capital of Southern Sudan, said many of those killed were women and children. Some of the bodies were being buried on 3 August.
Akobo County Commissioner Goi Jooyul Yol said the 2 August dawn attack occurred at Geni River in Mareng, 40km southwest of Akobo.
"The victims, mostly women and young children, had camped in the area for three weeks in search of food by forming fishing [camps] along Geni river, while being watched over by two dozen police and army for protection," he said in a statement.
Some 65 civilians and 12 army officers, who died, were buried by the river on 3 August. “Dozens of children and women are still missing and most are believed to be either killed or abducted by the attackers,” he said.
|The latest attack cut supplies to the more than 19,000 displaced Lou Nuer people in Akobo, who had fled earlier fighting against the Murle|
"The authorities are still searching for survivors by beating drums and checking the river and the woods for more dead…There is an urgent need of disarming all Jonglei Communities and particularly the Murle before the next dry season in order to save lives.”
The attack was the latest in a string of bloody battles in the region. On 12 June, fighting broke out close to Nasir in Upper Nile State, Southern Sudan, when men of the Jikany section of the Nuer ethnic group attacked a flotilla of 31 boats, including 27 carrying grain and other supplies for the UN World Food Programme towards Akobo.
The attack cut supplies to the more than 19,000 displaced Lou Nuer people in Akobo, who had fled earlier clashes with the Murle in April in which 250 were reported killed.
Violent clashes between the Lou Nuer and the Murle, and Lou Nuer and Jikany Nuer of Nasir County, had subsided after the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement ended war between Southern and Northern Sudan.
The cattle raids have, however, increased, fuelled in part by small arms supplies, land disputes and dwindling resources, according to UN sources.
Waiting for the boats to return to Akobo
Civilians on the run after Southern battles