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Ethiopia kills 16 South Sudan gunmen

2012-08-20 16:36

Addis Ababa - Ethiopian troops have killed 16 South Sudanese gunmen from a rebel group led by a traditional healer wanted for attacks in his home country, officials said on Monday.

"They were asked to surrender their guns.... They refused and started fighting with our forces," Omot Odeng Olol, the president of the western Ethiopian region of Gambella, told AFP about the clash, which took place last Wednesday.

The rebel group was led by a traditional healer who claims to use magic to cure the sick and sought to control the road leading into South Sudan, said Omot. It is not an organised group and does not have a name, he added.

Several deadly clashes have erupted in Gambella in recent months, although Omot said last week's incident was not connected to the previous attacks.

Gambella, which lies some 700km west of the capital Addis Ababa, is one of the most fertile and resource-rich areas of the country.

South Sudan was left awash with weapons after decades of war with north Sudan, from which it split in July last year.