57 killed in new South Sudan clashes
Juba - New ethnic clashes in South Sudan's troubled Jonglei state have killed 57 people, the government of the world's newest nation said late on Thursday.
"57 people got killed and most of them are women and children," Information Minister Barnaba Marial Benjamin said. "The men among them are only 11."
The minister added that a further 53 people were wounded in the attack on Wek village in Uror county on Wednesday.
About 60 members from the Murle tribe dressed in military uniforms carried out the raid, taking over 20 000 cows from the rival Nuer tribe area as part of an ongoing cattle vendetta.
"The Murle attacked from 17:00 until midnight. That’s why so many families got killed in their homes," Benjamin added.
South Sudan has declared Jonglei a national "disaster area" while the United Nations has said it will launch a "massive" emergency operation to help some 60 000 people affected by the violence.
In a dramatic escalation of bitter tit-for-tat attacks, a militia army of several thousand Lou Nuer youths recently marched on Pibor, another settlement in the remote area, to exact revenge on the Murle who they blame for abductions and cattle raiding.
The UN says that last year, violence between the two tribes left around 1 100 people dead and tens of thousands displaced, and that the conflict shows no signs of abating.
"This is a revenge attack - definitely they are coming to attack the Lou Nuer," Benjamin said of the most recent attack.