Seven people were killed and several others injured during several days of inter-communal clashes this week in the Tonj North County of Warrap state in South Sudan.
Second Lieutenant Bona Bak Akot, chief of the criminal investigation unit of Tonj North County, said the fighting occurred a few kilometers outside of Warrap Town, but police did not try to stop the violence.
“The police did not intervene because local youth are well armed; sometimes, they overran government forces. In this situation the police are vulnerable,” Akot told VOA’s South Sudan in Focus program.
Akot said men engaged in the fighting fired 12.7-millimeter assault guns, PK machine guns, and rocket-propelled grenades.
Ayii Agiu Akuot, a paramount chief in Warrap Town, said many children and women were displaced during the clashes. He said the area experienced “relative peace” in the past few months, but then “anti-peace elements” began fighting again.
“We are once again appealing for total disarmament in Tonj for our children to return home from hiding places and enjoy dividends of peace,” Akuot told South Sudan in Focus.
Dr. Deec Akot, who heads the county’s health department, said two people wounded in the attacks were taken to a local hospital but that the facility had no drugs to treat them. “We received two people wounded, one in the leg and another one in the abdominal joint. Their conditions are OK,” Dr. Akot told VOA.
Earlier this month, a child and an adult were killed in inter-communal fighting in Tonj South and Tonj East counties. Paul Mangong Awak, a member of the Tonj North County security committee, said at least 11 people were killed in recent clashes this past month in the state.
“This continuous insecurity has caused dismay to our local people; everyday issues of cattle raiding and road ambushes. Armed youth or criminals are terrorizing stability in the areas,” Awak told South Sudan in Focus.
Santo Domic, deputy spokesperson for the South Sudan army, called the attacks “regrettable.”
“The leadership of SSPDF and the local police are doing what they can to return calm in the area,” Domic told VOA.
In August, more than 130 people were killed in Tonj East County after soldiers clashed with civilians during a disagreement in a local market.