Fourteen people have been killed in fighting within the ranks of south Sudan’s army, an official said.
The bloodshed pitted the Unity State governor’s bodyguards against those of the deputy of south Sudan’s army, state information minister Andrew Kuong said.
An argument erupted in gunfire then escalated into clashes in a residential area in which eight soldiers and six civilians were killed. At least 10 people were wounded.
Analysts said the violence was a sign of internal rivalries within the former southern rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) which took over government following a peace agreement betwwen the north and the oil-producing south in 2005.
The deal decentralised power in the mainly Christian and animist south and gave it a vote in 2011 on secession.
Violence in the south has risen this year, with the United Nation’s estimating that 1200 people have been killed.
Some southerners blame their former foes in Khartoum, accusing them of arming militias before elections set for next year. Others blame the weak government’s failure to secure the south, which is plagued by internal and tribal rivalries.
South Sudan blames northern army for violence
South Sudan’s president has blamed the military in the north for a major escalation in violence in his semi-autonomous region emerging from decades of civil war, a southern official said today.
Long-standing tribal tensions in the south over cattle raids have escalated into more organised attacks on villages which the United Nations estimates have killed 1200 people this year.
The latest violence in the marshy Jonglei state has killed at least 23 more in the past three days.
“President Salva Kiir held a press conference and blamed the Sudanese army for that action in Jonglei by forming militia groups and giving them orders to attack citizens,” said Atem Simon, a communications officer for Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) party.
“He said … there is no doubt that these arms are coming from the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF),” Simon told Reuters. SAF is the northern army.
Simon said the southern army, known as the SPLA, had captured weapons and had evidence they had come from the north.
A 2005 peace deal ended the bitter north-south civil war which claimed 2 million lives and was fought over oil, ethnicity, ideology and religion. The war destabilised much of east Africa and any return to conflict could affect neighbouring nations.
The agreement devolved many powers to the newly created southern government, allowed for democratic elections and a southern vote on secession in 2011. But delays in implementation have created distrust between the former foes.
In the latest violence, at least 23 people were killed and 21 injured in tit-for-tat cattle raids between the Mundari and Dinka Bor tribes, the deputy governor of Jonglei state said today.
“We are urging the government of southern Sudan to send more SPLA troops to calm the situation,” Hussein Mar Nyuot told Reuters by telephone.
He said the situation was tense and the road between the southern capital Juba and Bor was now closed because of multiple deadly ambushes.
“These communities can overpower the police and small numbers of troops there so we need more SPLA along the road at least to help us create a buffer zone between the two communities,” he said.
He asked for aid for 1700 displaced from seven burnt villages.
Pic: South Sudan soldier