MORE THAN 3,000 villagers were massacred in the recent burst of communal violence in South Sudan, local officials have said, with the fledging South Sudanese government, which just won its independence six months ago, seemingly unable to stem the bloodshed.
If the death toll is confirmed – UN officials and South Sudanese army officers have yet to do that, saying they were still collecting information from the conflict zone – this would be one of the deadliest clashes in South Sudan in recent memory.
In the past two weeks UN aircraft had been tracking an unusually large column of 6,000 to 8,000 heavily armed fighters from the Lou Nuer ethnic group as it advanced toward Pibor, cutting a swath of destruction across the savanna. Pibor is the hometown of the Lou Nuer’s traditional rival, the Murle, and the groups have been locked in a tit-for-tat cattle rustling feud for years, with the death toll rising each round.
According to Joshua Konyi, the commissioner of Pibor County and a Murle, 2,182 women and children and 959 men were killed, 1,293 children were abducted and 375,186 cows were stolen.