Armed tribesmen from the Murle ethnic group raided a village in southern Sudan over the weekend, killing over 180 people and injuring some 31 others, the Sudan Tribune reported at its website on Tuesday.
An unknown number of the armed men raided the Lou Nuer village near Akobo County in Jonglei state in the worst violence in three months, according to the report.
Akobo Commissioner Goi Jooyul Yol, appearing visibly shaken at a press conference in Bor Town on Monday, said 100 women, 50 children and 11 Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers were among the dead in Akobo.
"Of the 29 wounded, 3 are SPLA and the rest are civilians," he was quoted as saying.
"Dozens of children and women are still missing and most are believed to be either killed or abducted by the attackers," he said, adding that a "thorough" search by local authorities is underway.
The Sunday dawn raid on Lou Nuer territory came months after bloody fighting broke out in February between the two tribes over cattle and territory when some 753 people were killed in a revenge assault launched by Lou Nuer against the Murle.
Again in April, Murle attacked Akobo killing over 300 people.
In view of the clashes between Murle and Lou Nuer recurring this year, the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in May deployed 120 armed peacekeepers in Akobo and Pibor to help Jonglei authorities stabilize the situation.
The UN forces pulled out last week "failing short to making meaningful impact" there, the county leader said, adding that the SPLA had failed to control the situation.
He called for the "immediate disarmament" of all communities in Jonglei "and particularly the Murle before next dry season in order to save lives."
He complained that the food airlifted to Akobo by UN was insufficient and a fight for living in that "hostile environment" proved dangerous.
Following the February and April violence outbreaks, some south Sudan officials claimed that the ruling National Congress Party (NCP) is behind the flare-up of tribal fighting. Some have also accused the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) of supplying weapons to the heavily armed Murle.
However, UNMIS Coordinator for Southern Sudan David Gressly in July said cattle rustling, which he described as "traditional activity" in southern Sudan, could cause similar kinds of violence.
He said the increasing violence in the region can be explained by the "lack of institutions of police, of courts, prisons, etc. and of the rule of law." "It is also due to a lack of infrastructure," he added.
(Xinhua News Agency August 4, 2009)