A cattle raid in south Sudan left 21 people dead, said an army spokesman, amid fears that continuing violence could affect next year’s referendum on independence for the semi-autonomous region.
Conflicts among tribes in the south, often fought over cattle, have intensified as weapons left over from Sudan’s civil war have become available since a peace deal in 2005. Most analysts expect the oil-producing south to vote for secession from the north in the January 9, 2011 plebiscite.
“On August 2, raiders from Yirol West raided a cattle camp in Yirol East. One youth from the East was killed and 20 of the attackers were killed because there was a fight back,” said south Sudan’s army (SPLA) spokesman Kuol Diem Kuol.
Kuol played down any tribal issue in Monday’s clash in Lakes state, saying it was simple theft not a mark of deeper tensions. Aid groups say at least 2,500 people have killed in tribal violence in south Sudan since the beginning of last year and many analysts believe the fighting could affect the referendum by making with large areas of the south inaccessible, reports Reuters.
LRA STILL ACTIVE
In a separate incident late last week, Uganda’s rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) killed one person and wounded four others including a south Sudanese soldier in an ambush, Kuol said. “The LRA ambushed a truck and killed the driver. The others would have been killed had it not been for the SPLA soldier who was wounded fighting them off,” he said.
The attack occurred in Western Equatoria state, a wild but fertile region bordering the Democratic Republic of Congo, where sporadic LRA attacks have displaced thousands of people and reduced agricultural production.
“We chase them but have to stop at the border. This is a very big issue,” said Kuol. “The Congolese government should allow us to follow them across the border, or at least kick them out of Congo.” The LRA, renowned for its abduction and brutal use of child soldiers, sought safe haven in lawless south Sudan during the two-decade Sudanese civil war. The 2005 peace deal boxed them in and forced them to the negotiating table. South Sudan and Ugandan troops have been hunting the LRA after 2008 peace talks failed to cajole its leader Joseph Kony from his jungle hideaway.