Death toll tops 200 in cross-border Ethiopia raid

Addis Ababa - More than 200 people were killed and over 100 children abducted by armed men from South Sudan in a cross-border raid into Ethiopia, the country's leader said.

Ethiopian officials blame Murle tribesmen from South Sudan for a series of deadly attacks on Ethiopian villages in the western Gambella region on Friday.

"The atrocities committed by an armed Murle tribe from South Sudan claimed the lives of 208," Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on state television on Sunday evening, increasing the death toll from an earlier estimate of 140.

Hailemariam said "mothers and children" were among the dead and, "they also abducted 102 children."

The foreign ministry said over 2 000 livestock were also stolen.

The Murle, a tribe from South Sudan based in the eastern Jonglei region close to the Ethiopian border, often stage raids to steal cattle and abduct children but rarely on such a large or deadly scale.

"There had been abduction of children and raiding of cattle from Gambella through crossing the Ethiopian border. However, Friday's attack was massive" Hailemariam said.

"The Ethiopian defence force is taking measures against the attackers to free the abducted children without any precondition," he said, without specifying whether Ethiopian troops had crossed the border into South Sudan.

Tribal

Friday's attacks targeted the Nuer tribe, one of the two main ethnic groups in South Sudan, who live on both sides of the border.

The western Ethiopian region of Gambella, which borders South Sudan, is also home to about 272 000 South Sudanese refugees who have fled the civil war that erupted in their country in December 2013.

The raid - dubbed the "Gambella massacre" in the Ethiopian media - reinforces long-standing fears that South Sudan's civil war since December 2013 would spill into Ethiopia.

The conflict has split South Sudan roughly along ethnic lines pitting the president's Dinka tribe against the rebel leader's Nuers. Ethiopia believes the raids are not linked to the ongoing conflict in South Sudan.

Located 50km from the South Sudanese border, Gambella is home to Ethiopian Nuers.

Local journalists have reported attackers carrying AK-47 assault rifles and killing anyone who resisted.

We live in a world where facts and fiction get blurred
In times of uncertainty you need journalism you can trust. For 14 free days, you can have access to a world of in-depth analyses, investigative journalism, top opinions and a range of features. Journalism strengthens democracy. Invest in the future today. Thereafter you will be billed R75 per month. You can cancel anytime and if you cancel within 14 days you won't be billed. 
Subscribe to News24
Voting Booth
Please select an option Oops! Something went wrong, please try again later.
Results
Nappies, they cost too much
7% - 304 votes
Formula and food, it's getting so expensive
18% - 805 votes
Creche and school fees are a struggle every month
76% - 3477 votes
Vote
Rand - Dollar
15.83
+1.6%
Rand - Pound
19.78
+0.4%
Rand - Euro
16.76
+0.5%
Rand - Aus dollar
11.16
+0.2%
Rand - Yen
0.12
+1.2%
Gold
1,841.08
+1.3%
Silver
21.91
+2.3%
Palladium
2,021.50
+0.3%
Platinum
969.00
+3.3%
Brent Crude
109.11
-2.6%
Top 40
61,726
-1.3%
All Share
68,246
-1.2%
Resource 10
71,337
-0.6%
Industrial 25
75,802
-1.3%
Financial 15
15,729
-1.9%
All JSE data delayed by at least 15 minutes Iress logo
Editorial feedback and complaints

Contact the public editor with feedback for our journalists, complaints, queries or suggestions about articles on News24.

LEARN MORE