Two killed, children abducted in Jonglei

By Deng Ghai Deng

Authorities in Jonglei State said at least 2 people were killed and 2 children abducted by suspected armed men from the Greater Pibor Administrative Area along Uror-Bor road on Monday.

Eyewitness Nyamuoth Yeker said while traveling from Uror to Bor, their vehicle fell into an ambush between a place called Gadiang and Mathing on Monday morning.  The attackers stopped the vehicle at gunpoint and opened gunfire into the vehicle killing two people on spot.

She said the attackers looted the passengers’ belongings and went away with her two children; a 6-year boy and a 2-years-old girl.

“Our vehicle was attacked and the attackers have abducted my children and killed my husband and another man. What I want the government to do is to help in tracing these children for me. If they can manage to bring my children back, at least I will feel better but now I do not know what to do,” Yeker pleaded.

Maj. General Joseph Mayen Akoon, the Jonglei state police commissioner confirmed the incident but said the police did not intervene on time due to what he called logistical challenges.

“We were just surprised this morning about the incident which took place early this morning at around one o’clock between Gadiang and Mathiang. The car was coming from Uror and on the way, suddenly it fell into an ambush by the criminals,” Akoon said.

Gen. Akoon added that there have been series of deadly road ambushes along Gadiang highway over the last few weeks.  He said no arrest was made because the civilians were traveling without a security escort.

“They have to inform the police or the army so that a force is organized to protect these people who are travelling. So, moving alone is not safe; they should ask for the security escort. But we are ready as the police, we have a force that can escort but we don’t have enough ammunition and this is our problem. We hope soon we are going to have some ammunition,” Akoon said.

Last week, at least two people, including former national health minister Riek Gai Kok’s wife, Nyawech Lam Makuei were killed while traveling from Bor to Uror County.

Simon Manyok Deng, the Advisor on Human rights to Jonglei State Governor said the recurring road ambushes were being carried out by suspected armed youth from Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

Deng said the ambushes have inflicted havoc among the locals, warning it may lead to another cyclic violence if not addressed.

“This news is very shocking because on our side here we are struggling to collect children and report them to where they belong and even the Greater Pibor Administrative Area did the same, they collected abducted children from Bor, Twic and Uror. But now this new development of attacks after attacks; recently I think it has been four attacks on the same road, same location. As the government of Jonglei State, our position is peace, we will continue to implement this peace but these actions need to be taken seriously,” he said.

Peter Ajak, the Greater Pibor Administrative Area’s Coordinator said he is only aware about the last week road ambush in Jonglei state but said there is no substantial evidence to label accusations against the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

“I heard about this information about the incident which took place last week concerning the woman who was killed. The people started to accuse Murle youth without evidence. If there is any incident after the first one, I do not know but the first one, we cannot even tell you the details but the bush contains many criminals and you don’t know whether they are Murle, Dinka or Nuer we don’t know,” Ajak said.

For his part, Bol Deng Bol, the executive director of the Bor-based advocacy group, INTREPID-SOUTH SUDAN, condemned the incident and described it as a threat to the ongoing peace efforts aimed at restoring peace among the communities in Jonglei state and the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

“What is going on now is undesirable for the people of Jonglei state and the people of Greater Pibor Administrative Area. Few months ago, we have been discussing and we have been signing Peace agreement. Local peace agreements and the final peace agreement which was convened in Juba and attended by the President coined as People-to-people Peace agreement. These attacks and killings are very much unexpected and caught us on the surprise,” Mr. Bol said.

In January this year, the Lou Nuer and Dinka Bor communities of Jonglei state and the Murle community of Greater Pibor Administrative Area held a peace conference in Juba, where they agreed to bury their variances and embrace peace. At the end of the conference, leaders from the three communities signed a document stating that all abductees shall be returned and the perpetrators shall be punished. It also said compensation shall be paid to the families of those killed or injured during attacks and revenge attacks during cattle raids. The two areas have exchanged some of the inductees recently.

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