Juba — Nearly 70 people were killed in a weeklong cattle raiding conflict between two rival tribes in South Sudan last week, officials said Monday.
The cattle raid happened near water points in Jonglei state when ethnic Nuer tribesmen allegedly attacked the area and drove off with more than 100,000 cattle owned by the Murle, said Akot Maze, the commissioner of Pibor County, near the south's remote border with Ethiopia.
Maze said reports indicated at least 68 people were killed during the attacks, though he said more may have been killed. He said more than 5000 people, mostly women and children, have been displaced from their homes. The fighting went on for more than a week but subsided Friday.
The governor of Jonglei, Kuol Manyang Juuk, said 70 bodies had been discovered so far from the recent fighting. A member of the Jonglei state assembly said the number of dead was in the hundreds.
During the recently concluded dry season, Murle cattle keepers raided the Nuer, killing scores and driving off several heads of cattle. The two tribes have had long-running battles over cattle and access to water.
That dynamic is one of many aspects of local violence in South Sudan. The oil-rich region voted in January to break off from the north and become its own country in July, but the area has seen spasms of violence since the joyful vote.
The UN said last week that 800 people have died and 94,000 more have been displaced in violence in South Sudan so far this year.