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In South Sudan, Boma Youth Accused of Killing Dozens in Jonglei State

FILE - An armed man and a woman talk in South Sudan, July 24, 2013.

In South Sudan, a gang killed 43 people — mostly women and children — abducted more than 50 others, and stole cattle in an attack on Duk-Payuel County on Monday night and Tuesday morning, Jonglei state officials said.

News reports said some local aid workers were among the dead.

Officials dispatched security forces to investigate the incident and track down the killers, Jonglei state deputy governor Agot Alier told South Sudan in Focus on Wednesday.

Alier blamed authorities in neighboring Boma state for failing to stop the vicious cycle of killings, abductions and cattle raids in Jonglei state. Alier said he will seek help from the national government and the United Nations to get the abducted children, women and cattle returned.

Boma state security adviser Lokoli Leme condemned the attack, saying peace cannot happen until the cattle raids and revenge killings end in Jonglei and Boma states. He added that Boma authorities will take action against the youth who attacked Jonglei's Duk-Payuel County.

FILE - A woman from the Murle tribe and her children stand outside their tent in Pibor town in Jonglei state, South Sudan, July 18, 2013.
FILE - A woman from the Murle tribe and her children stand outside their tent in Pibor town in Jonglei state, South Sudan, July 18, 2013.

Alier called on First Vice President Taban Deng Gai to intervene. Gai mediated a peace deal earlier this year between Jonglei and Boma state authorities to ensure that abducted women and children in previous cattle raids were safely returned to their homes.

Gai condemned Tuesday's attack and called on the Murle and Dinka Bor communities to "exercise restraint and avoid further escalating the situation."

The statement said those responsible for the attack will be "thoroughly investigated and the perpetrators brought to book."

Alier urged the United Nations Mission in South Sudan to take action.

"You abduct people from their own parents, their own mothers and fathers, for the purpose of selling them to other needy families. This is more of human trafficking and amounts even to slavery that has been abolished a long time ago," Alier said.

UNMISS spokesperson Daniel Dickinson condemned the incident in a recorded message released to VOA. He said U.N. peacekeepers were being sent to the region.

"UNMISS deplores any incidents in which innocent civilians are killed. The mission is working to send an integrated peacekeeping patrol including human rights monitors to the area," Dickinson said.

Ayuen Guer Roor, spokesperson for the group Dinka Bor Youth Union, said young people do not recognize the cessation of hostilities agreement that leaders of the two communities signed earlier this year.

"We have no agreement with Murle. We are there for war and we must revenge this killing of our people and abducting of our children and women and elders," Roor told South Sudan in Focus.

Gai said national officials summoned Jonglei state governor Philip Aguer and his Boma state counterpart, Ismail Kony, to Juba to explain why members of their communities continue to violate the secession of hostilities agreement, which was signed in May.