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Africa
Deadly clashes in South Sudan
More than 185 people are reported to have been killed in clashes between two rival groups.
Last Modified: 04 Aug 2009 03:45 GMT
Officials said most of the victims were
women and children [File: EPA] 

More than 185 people are reported to have been killed in heavily armed clashes between two rival groups in South Sudan, the latest in a series of bloody ethnic clashes.

Sudanese officials said on Monday that tribal fighters from the Murle ethnic group attacked a camp in the Akobo area of the region's swampy Jonglei state, where oil exploration is under way, on Sunday morning.

"At least 100 women and children, 50 men and 11 SPLA [soldiers from the southern Sudan People's Liberation Army] are being buried by the riverside this morning," Goi Jooyul Yol, the Akobo commissioner, said in a statement on Monday.

Officials said most of the victims were from the Lou Nuer group, locked in a tribal war with the Murle that has already claimed over 700 lives this year in attacks and counter-attacks.

"We fear there may be more dead to find," Yol said said from Bor, the capital of Jonglei.

"The situation in Akobo town is tense, and those fleeing the fighting are continuing to arrive into the town."

'Political agitators'

Salva Kiir, the president of the autonomous government in the south, has blamed political agitators who he said want to show that the south cannot run itself ahead of a promised 2011 southern referendum on separation from northern Sudan.

Disputes, many sparked by cattle rustling, have been exacerbated by a ready supply of arms left over from the two-decade civil war between north and south Sudan, and political disaffection over the slow pace of development in the region.

South Sudanese and UN officials had hoped the recent onset of the region's rainy season would reduce the violence, as heavy downpours restricted access to remote villages.

 "This year there has not been enough rain to lessen the movements," Hussein May Nyuot, the deputy governor of Jonglei, said on Monday.

Jonglei state was one of the areas hardest hit in Sudan's two-decade-long civil war, which ended in 2005 with a power-sharing deal between the predominantly Muslim north and the largely Christian an animist south.

There are large numbers of arms in the state and there are frequent clashes between rival groups. Attempts at disarmament have left some regions at risk of attack from their still heavy-armed neighbours.

Under the deal, the south began a six-year transitional period of regional autonomy until a referendum on self-determination in 2011.

Source:
Agencies
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