Monday, April 18, 2016 12:02 pm
Ethiopia has accused South Sudanese gunmen of killing 208 citizens, west of the country and kidnapping 108 children.
An Ethiopian official said the attack took place on Friday in the Horn of Africa nation’s Gambela region which, alongside a neighbouring province, hosts more than 284,000 South Sudanese refugees who fled conflict in their country.
The initial death toll was 140, given a day earlier.
By Sunday afternoon, the number had risen to “208 dead and 75 people wounded” , government spokesman Getachew Reda told Reuters, adding the assailants had also abducted 108 children and taken 2,000 heads of livestock.
“Ethiopian Defence Forces are taking measures. They are closing in on the attackers,” he said.
Getachew did not give further details, but officials in Gambela said on Saturday Ethiopian troops had crossed the border in pursuit of the attackers.
Cross-border cattle raids have occurred in the same area in the past, often involving Murle tribesmen from South Sudan’s Jonglei and Upper Nile regions – areas awash with weapons that share borders with Ethiopia.
Previous attacks, however, were smaller in scale. The gunmen are not believed to have links with South Sudanese government troops or rebel forces who fought the government in Juba in a civil war that ended with a peace deal signed last year.
South Sudanese officials were not immediately available for comment.
Under pressure from neighbouring states, the United States, the United Nations and other powers, South Sudan’s feuding sides signed an initial peace deal in August and agreed to share out ministerial positions in January.