Armed tribesmen attack south Sudan villagers, soldiers

Tribesmen attacked a village in south Sudan on Sunday, overwhelming soldiers guarding the settlement and killing an unknown number, the army said.

More than 1 200 people, many of them women and children, have been killed in a wave of ethnic clashes in the oil-producing region this year.

Many of the attacks are linked to long-running feuds over cattle rustling, exacerbated by a ready supply of guns and dissatisfaction over the slow rate of development in the region.

Ssouthern politicians have also accused their former civil war foes in north Sudan of arming rival tribes to spread instability before national elections scheduled for April 2010 and a referendum on southern independence in 2011. Khartoum denies the accusation.

A large group of fighters from the Lou Nuer ethnic group attacked Duk Padiet village, inhabited by the Dinka Hol tribe, on Sunday morning, southern army spokesperson Kuol Diem Kuol said.

It was too early to give a death toll, he said.

“They overran our company plus the youth of the village,” he said.

Sudanese national security officers, who were visiting the village to gather information on recent clashes, were also overwhelmed in the attack.

Kuol said it was thought to be the same group of Lou Nuer fighters who attacked the Jonglei village of Wernyol last month killing 40 and wounding 64.

“These are the same elements attacking. Definitely these are Lou Nuer militiamen,” he said.

Sudan’s mostly Christian and animist south and Muslim north fought each other in a two-decade civil war that ended in a 2005 peace deal.

The conflict also set southern tribes against each other as the north armed rival militias to undermine its enemy.

The 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement set up a national coalition government shared oil wealth between north and south and promised the elections and the referendum.
- Reuters

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