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SSudan Forces Killed in Warrap Clashes

FILE - Young boys sit with their rifles Pibor, South Sudan, 2.10.2015. Inter-communal clashes in December 2020 in the Tonj North County of Warrap state in South Sudan left seven people dead.

At least 25 people were killed and scores of others injured in clashes between armed South Sudanese civilians and security forces in Tonj North County over the weekend, said Warrap state authorities

Warrap State Authorities say more than two dozen fatalities and many more injuries took place over the weekend in clashes between armed South Sudanese civilians and security forces in Tonj North County.

The dead include children and several top miliary officers according to authorities.

The fighting broke out after authorities in Tonj North dispatched security forces to recover cattle stolen by suspected raiders from Wal Bet Payam, said Warrap state information minister Ring Deng Ading.

Civilians ambushed the security team and killed 18 soldiers, said Ading.

“The disarmament forces located in Rual-Bet Payam were given orders to go and release the number of cows in the cattle camp, so they went and took some cattle, and then the civilians took their arms and started fighting the forces,” Ading told South Sudan in Focus.

Ading urged civilians to stop shooting at security forces.

“There is nowhere in this world that civilians take up arms against the government. We want peace and dialogue with civilians. We are trying to engage them to drop their arms and remain in peace with the government,” Ading told VOA.

The army is in Warrap town awaiting further instructions, added Ading.

South Sudan Member of Parliament Mawien Dhor Ariik who represents Tonj North County in the national assembly condemned the attack on soldiers but criticized Warrap state officials for suspending the Tonj North commissioner.

“I condemn this act in the strongest term possible and this is a result of the leadership vacuum that the government is not at the site,” Ariik told South Sudan in Focus.

He called on Warrap state citizens to respect government institutions, including the army.

“This is their own government. Government has to be respected; government is above everybody and nobody can take arms against the government,” said Ariik.

This is not the first time civilians in Warrap state have clashed with soldiers. In 2018, nearly 100 soldiers who were dispatched to Tonj East County to disarm civilians were killed in clashes with armed civilians.