At least 127 people have been killed since Saturday in northern South Sudan in clashes between soldiers and young people from the Gelweng community, who refused to lend themselves to a disarmament operation.
The disarmament operation is escalating in southern Sudan. At least 127 people have been killed in recent days in clashes between soldiers and youths from a local community in northern southern Sudan, said Wednesday (August 12). AFP, Armenian spokesman Lul Ruai Koang.
“According to the latest figures we have, I can confirm that the death toll is 127 dead. According to our information, 82 civilians were killed in these clashes and 45 soldiers from the South Sudanese army,” Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said.
Two soldiers were arrested
The clashes began on Saturday and took place in Warrap State, home of President Salva Kiir. According to the army spokesman, young armed men from the Gelweng community, who refused to hand over their weapons as part of a government-led operation, attacked an army position in an area called Romic.
In addition to the victims, the clashes left 32 soldiers injured and a number “that remains to be established” among Gelweng, according to Lul Ruai Koang, who said the situation had returned to normal there and that government forces had withdrawn.
The spokesman added that “two soldiers involved in the outbreak of the clashes had been arrested for questioning” and that appeals had been made to elders in the Gelweng community to help authorities arrest three young people suspected of launching the attack on the army.
An unstable region
This region had already been made unstable by the recent common conflicts. Many communities in South Sudan are armed to protect against attacks, including attacks by cattle thieves.
On August 6, two days before the start of the disarmament operation in the region, a civil society organization, the South Sudanese Small Arms Action Network, warned the government of the consequences of disarmament without prior consultation with the communities.
“We have seen in the past that the government disarmed civilians with no plan to protect them afterwards. Shortly afterwards, these communities were victims of devastating attacks by criminals belonging to neighboring communities,” Geoffrey Lou Duke warned in a statement, NGO Secretary General. He urged the government not to “repeat past mistakes”.
South Sudan, where a peace agreement was signed in 2018, is struggling to recover from a civil war that has left more than 380,000 people dead in six years and caused a catastrophic humanitarian crisis.
South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and former leader of the main uprising, now Vice President Riek Machar, formed a government of national unity in February.
The struggle between government forces and the main rebel groups largely ceased after the signing of the peace agreement, but collisions with resilient groups still take place and violence between municipalities is frequent.