By Philip Thon Aleu
December 12, 2011 (BOR) – As residents of Jalle Payam (district) organized funerals rituals for last week raid on Friday, more people died on Sunday in Makuach Payam, Bor and others in Pigi county where renegade army general George Athor is holing up with his forces.
Both attacks, according to the state government, will be minimized by carrying out comprehensive disarmament and deployment of police forces in “buffer zones” in Jonglei.
“On general peace in the state, the government of the state is committed and we are going to disarm the communities and deploy the force to buffer zones that seperates the communities,” Deputy governor Hussein Maar Nyuot told the press on Monday in his office in Bor.
The deputy governor said the government of the state is “not happy” and that “the gallant forces” will deal with insecurity challenges.
For residents of Jonglei state, reports of cattle raiding is a tradition but the ranging battles between forces loyal to George Athor and South Sudan’s army, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) for over a year in northern Jonglei state is an added burden to the already fragile safety.
Athor was defeated during the April 2010 gubernatorial polls in Jonglei state but refused to recognized the results claiming vote rigging in favour of the then incumbent governor Kuol Manyang Juuk who won with over 68% of votes.
The former SPLA general launched his military campaign on April 30, 2010 in his home county of Pigi, about 200 kilometres north of Bor town, the capital of Jonglei state. He has repeatedly threatened to attack Bor town.
Two people died and four others wounded Sunday when raiders attacked a cattle camp in Kapat, a village in Makuach Payam (district) loacted about 20 kilometers each of Bor town.
Residents told the Sudan Tribune at the scene of clashes on Sunday that thousands of cattle are still being pursued. Blood resulting from injuries suffered during the fighting was seen and 30 cattle killed in the fight at Wun-leek cattle camp.
The bodies of the two young men killed during the fight were being buried by a team of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) reached Kapat to inspect the magnitude of the raid.
Women yelled and children look on, frighten that the attackers may return to their village anytime.
“We found them (raiders) on Friday and told the youth about them but never took our advice,” a woman who claimed to have met the raiders at a borehole in Kapat said.
Asked who she believes the raiders are, she said claimed that they are Murle tribesmen.
The chief of Murle in Juba, Sultan Ismeal Konyi denied his tribesmen involvement in raiding Bor villages including Jalle attack last week during a press conference held in Juba. He called to commission a neutral panel to investigate the raid.
But a member of parliament representing Athoc North (Jalle Payam) in Jonglei state legislative assembly, Kuol Bol Ayom reject Konyi’s assertion and labelled his remark as a “total lie.”
“These people (who raided Bor villages) are Murle,” Bol told the Sudan Tribune.
“Three raiders were killed in Jalle and they were identified as Murle. The cattle were driven to the east of Jalle toward Murle area. What Ismeal Konyi is saying is a total lie,” he said when asked to give evidences to support his accusations.
Bol also said favourable to the formation of a fact-finding committee to probe the raid.
ATHOR ATTACK IN PIGI
Sunday was a busy day for Jonglei state officials who were receiving reports of attacks around Bor town and in the remote north of the immense state.
Media reports put death toll to eleven.
The deputy governor of Jonglei state, Hussein Maar said at least four Payam (districts) were attacked but declined to reveal casualties inflicted on the level of the state.
“We are not happy as a government by the activities of George Athor. This issue will be dealt with by our gallant forces of the SPLA and the police so that our people live in peace and enjoy peace dividends,” Maar said.
The deputy governor defended police ability to protect civilians saying lack of roads prevent the movement of its vehicles.
“You need to have good roads so that the police is able to move faster than the raiders. You can’t expect the police and the army to be under every tree like the raiders,” he said when asked to explain why lack of roads prevent police mobility but not the raiders.
People here in Jonglei regret that the different disarmament plans remain fruitless as people continue to die as result of cattle raiders, child abductors, and rebel attacks six year since the signing of 2005 peace agreement with Khartoum.