A bloody attack left 103 dead during a cattle raid in South Sudan on Friday. The tragedy marks the worst violence seen in Jonglei State following a 2011 tribal attack that led to the killing of 900 people.
Unarmed families in the midst of a weekend cattle drive were ambushed by a heavily armed militia group. According to area officials, the rebels showed no mercy and murdered indiscriminately with a large number of women and children among the victims killed.
According to Reuters, in addition to the loss of 103 civilian lives, 14 government troops were overtaken and slain while guarding the herders.
Adding to the horror is the possibility that a vast number of survivors may have been kidnapped by the killers. State governor Kuol Manyang spoke about the attack:
“They came under attack from people in a huge force. There are many children and women missing. Their fate is not yet known.”
CNN News reports that officials have identified the attackers as members of the Murle ethnic group and the victims as the Lou Nuer.
Both factions are known to be fighting over grazing lands and water rights. Despite a peace agreement reached in May, outbreaks of violence have continued.
Akobo County Commissioner Goi Jooyul has stated that survivors in Friday’s deadly cattle raid employed the use of spears and machetes to fend off attackers. Some of the herders managed to recover RPGs and other heavy weaponry from their attackers.
Authorities in South Sudan continue to search for the families not found among 103 dead bodies left behind after the cattle raid.