30 killed in Sudan cattle raids

2010-03-03 09:38

Juba - At least 30 people were killed in cattle-rustling raids and revenge attacks between rival clans in Sudan's oil-producing south, officials said on Tuesday.

Gunmen from the Dinka tribe's Atuot and Ciek clans clashed in south Sudan's remote Lakes State over the weekend, deputy state governor David Noc Marial said.

"There is a long story of cattle raiding between the two, of attacks and counter-attacks. But it became open war," he said.

Traditional conflicts, often fought over cattle, have intensified amid a flood of weapons left over from Sudan's north-south civil war that ended in a faltering 2005 peace deal.

The civil war, which killed an estimated 2 million people and forced 4 million to flee, set tribe against tribe and bitter grudges remain in many areas.

The latest fighting was triggered by a Ciek raid on Atuot cattle herders in the wetlands of Yirol East county on Friday afternoon, said Marial.

Atuot fighters ambushed a Ciek party later that evening, sparking a series of attacks and counter attacks mostly on land north of Yirol town, he added.

"Thirty are dead and around 35 people were injured," he said, adding that the violence peaked on Sunday.

Aid groups say at least 2 500 people have been killed in ethnic violence in south Sudan since the beginning of last year, raising fears for April elections promised in the 2005 accord.

The intensity of recent violence has caused some southern leaders to accuse their old foes in the north of political meddling. Khartoum denies the accusation.

Lakes State officials said they thought the Yirol fighting was primarily linked to cattle.