Minister says troops may cross border to pursue assailants after deadly raid in Ethiopia’s Gambela region.
The death toll from a raid carried out by attackers from South Sudan in western Ethiopia has risen to 208 people, an Ethiopian official said, adding that 108 children were kidnapped.
By Sunday afternoon, the number had risen to “208 dead and 75 people wounded” from a figure of 140 a day earlier, government spokesman Getachew Reda told the Reuters news agency.
Women and children were among the dead, he said, adding that the assailants had also taken 2,000 head of livestock.
“Ethiopian Defence Forces are taking measures. They are closing in on the attackers,” Getachew said.
The attack happened on Friday in the Horn of Africa nation’s Gambela region which, alongside a neighbouring province, hosts more than 284,000 South Sudanese refugees who have fled a conflict in that country.
Getachew earlier told Al Jazeera that Ethiopian forces had killed 60 of the attackers and would cross the border into South Sudan to pursue the assailants if necessary.
No government link
Cross-border cattle raids have happened in the same area in the past, often involving Murle tribesmen from South Sudan’s Jonglei and Upper Nile regions – areas awash with weapons that share borders with Ethiopia.
Previous attacks, however, were smaller in scale.
The attackers are not believed to have links with South Sudanese government troops or rebel forces who fought the government in Juba in a civil war that ended with a peace deal signed last year.
South Sudanese officials were not immediately available for comment.
Under pressure from neighbouring states, the United States, the United Nations and other powers, South Sudan’s feuding sides signed an initial peace deal in August and agreed to share out ministerial positions in January.