Officials from South Sudan's Warrap state say 18 people were killed and dozens other wounded during a cattle raid that began Tuesday and continued through Wednesday in Tonj East County.
The Commissioner of Tonj East county John Deng Kook says armed raiders suspected of coming from Tonj East County attacked a cattle camp in the Wunlit area.
He told South Sudan in Focus that 16 people died and two others succumbed to gunshot wounds on Thursday morning.
“The clashes happened on Tuesday morning in a place called Panya Bech. The fight was caused by attackers from Luany-Jang," said Kook.
Authorities have dispatched government security forces to Panyan Bech to restore calm in the area, added Kook.
The commissioner says he wonders how civilians involved in the cattle raid obtained weapons after a disarmament exercise in Tonj East earlier this year.
The Information Minister for Warrap state William Wuol Kuol condemned the renewed fighting in Tonj East. He said Warrap state Governor Aleu Ayieny has ordered security forces to pursue the attackers.
'' General Aleu Ayieny is in the lead and any person that is taking the law by his hand [will be punished], so I am urging the families who have actually lost their loved ones to remain calm and the government will take thorough measures to bring people to book,” Ayieny told South Sudan in Focus.
Kuol said security forces in Wunlit have apprehended 14 suspects from both sides.
“They are under the detention of the government now - seven from both sides, and arrests continue," Kuol said, adding "It may not end with that number detained. The real criminals who survived death are not yet caught.”
The information minister urged people in Tonj East to remain calm , adding that the state government is in control.
“This incident that just happened was caused by some criminals who don’t want peaceful coexistence with people. This is a call that we need to unite ourselves and refrain from hate speeches,” Kook told South Sudan in Focus.
Kook and Kuol both blamed individual criminals whom they say do not want peace in Tonj East.
The two officials warned residents against inciting violence on social media, saying individuals found guilty could be charged in a new Juba-based cybercrimes court.
“I am urging particularly those who are actually putting some propaganda on social media to be very mindful," Koul told VOA, "because we have heard recently the court has been formed to investigate anybody who is found instigating any havoc to the peace and tranquility of the community should be dealt with through the rule of law by this criminal court.”