No fewer than 55 people have been killed in what appears to be an ethnically based attack and cattle raid in South Sudan, local officials said on Monday. Boma state’s information minister, Achon John Giro, told newsmen that gunmen believed to have come from eastern Jonglei state attacked Coschar village in neighbouring Boma state on Sunday. Giro put the number of attackers at several thousands. He said no fewer than 55 people, mostly women and children, were killed, and thousands of cattle stolen. According to the official, the attackers are believed to belong to the Bor Dinka and the victims to the Murle ethnic group.
The two ethnic groups accuse each other of raiding cattle and abducting children for domestic labour. The attackers reportedly wore military uniforms, but army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang denied that they could be soldiers. “Rebels fighting the government and militias allied with them often disguise themselves with army uniforms,’’ Koang said. Tens of thousands had been killed in South Sudan since the split between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar escalated into a military conflict in December 2013. The conflict included ethnically based massacres committed by both sides. The UN has expressed concern over the increase in inter-ethnic violence in the country.