JUBA, 16 February 2021 – At least 20 people, a majority of them women and children, have been killed in inter-communal clashes in South Sudan’s Tonj North County, authorities confirmed Tuesday.
“Some villages were also burnt to the ground… [and some of the victims] were burnt in their houses,” said Aduot Ayiey Aleu, the Executive Director of Tonj North County.
Twelve people were killed on February 13 in Wun-lack village of Awul Payam in what is suspected to be a retaliatory attack carried out by a group of armed youth from the Manyiel-Jur area, Ayiey Aleu told reporters on Radio Tamazuj on Monday.
Ayiey Aleu said four people were also injured in the dawn attack in which eight children, two men, and two women were killed.
He saidt the attack followed a similar attack on February 9 on the Manyiel-Jur village where 15 people were killed, most of them women, children, and the elderly.
The death toll of at least 20 people killed has been revised upward from 18 people killed and dozens injured previously provided by county officials.
Hundreds of families have been left homeless after their homes were torched in the clashes.
According to Ayiey Aleu, none of the attackers has been arrested but security personnel is holding three chiefs from the affected areas for investigations.
“The criminals fled, but we arrested three sultans for the areas in which the incidents occurred by order of the state government. Anyone who allows the youth of his region to launch attacks, we will arrest him,” he affirmed.
The killings are part of the most recent upsurge in inter-communal violence across the county which broke out last February 9.
“Armed youth of Atogo area attacked a Boma called Duliet in Rualbet Payam [leading to] the death of 15 people,” Ayiey Aleu added, explaining that the victims included women, children and the elderly.
He confirmed that three more people were killed and six others injured last February 12 in communal clashes between Luanyiang and Lou Paaheer communities at Romic area.
Last August, inter-communal clashes in Tonj East left 148 people dead and more than 140 others injured.