Around 47 people have been killed in tribal violence in South Sudan, the latest in a cycle of attacks that have displaced some 60,000 people in the new African nation, officials said.

A youth armed group from the Murle tribe attacked Duk Padyet in Jonglei state late on Monday, mostly killing young children, women and old people from the Lou Nuer tribe, said Philip Thon Leek Deng, a local leader and member of parliament.

"They did not take cattle. They were only coming for annihilation," Deng told reporters in Juba on Tuesday.

"I'm appealing for quick measures to be taken by government of the state and national government to take forces to protect the old men and women who are there," he said.

"What happened in Duk Padyet is not the end,'' Deng said. "We are expecting another attack this evening from similar forces because they did not take cattle. They attacked the town. There were no cattle in the town."

The government and United Nations peacekeeper forces say they are struggling to protect communities in a vast area the size of Bangladesh with barely any road access.

The violence broke out in December, when the Lou Nuer attacked settlements of the Murle.

Local officials have said as many as 2,000 people may have died, although UN officials say the toll is likely to be much lower.

Ravaged by decades of civil war that killed two million people, South Sudan is one of the least developed countries in the world.

"We have not fought the war for our people to suffer and be traumatised at the time that we have independence, so we call for an immediate end to hostilities," said Deng Dan Den, another member of parliament.

South Sudan became independent in July under a 2005 peace agreement with Khartoum to end decades of civil war. But the government has been struggling to end tribal and rebel violence killing at least 3,000 last year.

Source: Agencies