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TONJ NORTH/EAST - 5 Oct 2021

Intercommunal clashes leave over 30 dead, 80 wounded in Tonj East

Authorities in Warrap state have confirmed that more than thirty people died in the intercommunal conflict among the Thiik and Luachjang communities of Tonj East, and the Lou Paher of Tonj North County on Sunday.

Tonj East County Commissioner Deng Kok told Radio Tamazuj that the conflict occurred at Ayol village in Tonj East County.

"In Tonj East County 13 were killed, in Luachjang 11 were killed, in Thiik three, from Akok Achuil and two persons died in the same fight from Ador," he said. "The wounded in these places are over 29 people from Thiik and 32 from Luachjang that make the total of wounded people to be around 64 while some of the five people went missing up to now," he said.

Commissioner Kok said those wounded from the Luachjang area were taken to Ngap-Agok PHCC and Apaliang PHCU and those from Thiik were taken to Marial Lou UNMISS base for treatment. He said the conflict ended without any government intervention.

According to Kok, the recent fighting erupted after eight cattle were raided in Padet cattle camp by unknown armed youth. After following them, the cattle owners clashed with the raiders near the areas of the Thiik community.

For his part, Tonj North County commissioner Kuol Akoon said, "At my side, I lost five people and nine others wounded as Luachjang community ambushed them there in Thiik the same area of Tonj East and those injured are under UNMISS's care. The state government told me there will be a flight to take them to Kuajok for further treatment." 

Meanwhile, Agok Ayaar, the state acting minister of information condemned the fighting and said the government will get to the bottom of the conflict. 

"With deep sadness and concerns the government of Warrap state would like to bring to the attention of the public that the fighting which erupted between Luach-Jang community and Thiik killed many lives and wounded others, 35 people were killed on both sides while 80 people sustained serious injuries and others didn't return from attack," Ayaar said. "As a matter of detail, Luach-Jang community has lost 14 and 42 wounded while Thiik, Akok, and Ador sections lost 16 people, 29 with wounds while Lou Paher with five death cases and nine people reportedly wounded according to county commissioners." 

The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has condemned the clashes saying the clashes linked to cattle raids and revenge attacks are 'worsening an already dire humanitarian situation'.

"Despite logistical challenges due to heavy flooding, last month, the UN Mission set up a temporary base in Marial Lou, also in Warrap State, to help deter violence. The Mission is also supporting reconciliation and peacebuilding efforts, including holding conferences to resolve border and land disputes, tensions over pastures and water points, and the proliferation of small arms among civilians. The Mission is also helping to bolster legal institutions in the area, such as mobile courts, to hold those responsible for the violence accountable," UNMISS said in a statement on Monday. 

In March this year, Warrap state governor Gen. Aleu Ayieny Aleu, gave a stern warning to perpetrators of intercommunal violence and cattle rustlers to stop or face the law. However, the warning seems to have fallen on deaf ears as the vices continue to claim lives and displace families in Tonj East and North counties.