At least 57 people were killed and more than a dozen others injured during recent ethnic violence in South Sudan’s eastern Jonglei region, a local official said on Wednesday.
Armed groups of youths from the Nuer ethnic group attacked members of the Murle ethnic group in the Greater Pibor administrative area, Greater Pibor’s information minister Abraham Kelang said.
South Sudan, which gained independence from Sudan in 2011, has been blighted by political and communal violence and clashes over cattle and land disputes for decades.
Kelang said the fighting started on Sunday when armed youths from Jonglei attacked Lanam village.
He said members of both groups were killed while 17 people on the Murle side were among the injured.
Murle community youth association chairman David Ngiro condemned the fighting and urged humanitarian groups to intervene.
“We also call on the central government and the government of Jonglei State to take action to stop this act of genocidal nature aimed towards the Murle tribe,” he said on Wednesday.
Jonglei State information minister John Samuel Manyuon also condemned the fighting and ordered state youth to withdraw immediately.
And he called on the national government in Juba to intervene, saying the situation is out of the local state's control.
“This is a cycle of violence that has been going on for many years, and we want that support from the national (government) and our partners to see the solution in ending (it),” Manyuon said.
The Jonglei youths also attacked a military barracks. Military spokesperson Maj. Gen. Lul Ruai said the “rebellion” would be dealt with accordingly.
Recently, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan warned about reported mobilisation of armed Nuer youths in the Greater Jonglei area. It said that could trigger violent attacks that could undermine recent peace gains achieved through a rapprochement between the leaders of Jonglei state and Pibor area.
In March 2020, similar fighting between the two communities displaced thousands.
Insecurity remains rife across the landlocked East African country despite the formation of a transitional government in February 2020, which reinstalled Riek Machar as the country’s first vice president.