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Forces Deployed to Central Equatoria Village After 5 Killed

FILE - A soldier walks through a market outside of Yei town in Central Equatoria State, Dec. 23, 2020.
FILE - A soldier walks through a market outside of Yei town in Central Equatoria State, Dec. 23, 2020.

The Central Equatoria state government in South Sudan has deployed security forces to a Juba County village to ensure pastoralists from a neighboring state vacate the area after five people were killed late last week, the county commissioner said.

Juba County commissioner Charles Joseph Wani told South Sudan in Focus that armed cattle herders suspected to be from Jonglei state’s Bor County killed five people and injured one person Friday in Nyajerbe village. Pastoralists from Jonglei have been given 72 hours to vacate the area.

“Five died on the spot and one is in the hospital receiving treatment. The general situation is calm because the government has deployed enough forces to protect that village,” Wani said.

Wani said authorities have arrested two cattle herders suspected of being involved in the killings.

Last year, Central Equatoria state Governor Emmanuel Adil Anthony instructed the South Sudan army to peacefully facilitate the passage of cattle keepers to their place of origin. However, the orders were never enforced.

Wani said this time, the order will be implemented.

“I am the one who is going to be serious as the commissioner of Juba County, and I guess when the forces are available to me. I will be moving from time to time to ensure that the cattle herders leave the area,” Wani told VOA.

Longino Michael Cook, the chairperson of the Oluba community impacted by the attacks, told South Sudan in Focus that residents are still tense and some families from Nyajerbe village have fled to neighboring villages.

“I have to tell you the truth, there are no persons left there. Some people running to Lokiliri Boma, some in Nesitu, some to Gumbo and others to Juba right now. This is really a barbaric act, and I really condemn it in the strongest term because you can’t shoot people who don’t have guns and pangas (machetes),” Cook told VOA.

He said peaceful dialogue should be used to resolve any differences among communities in South Sudan, adding killing innocent civilians could trigger revenge attacks.

South Sudan has more cattle, goats and sheep than it has people, according to the U.N. Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO).

Conflict between farmers and cattle keepers have been rampant in some parts of South Sudan’s Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria states this year.