Militia arms: S Sudan army, rebels blamed
23 March 2012, 15:28
Nairobi - Guns and ammunition used by a South Sudanese ethnic militia
that massacred a rival group earlier this year came from both the army
and a rebel group, a report said on Thursday.
December a marauding column of about 8 000 armed youths from the Lou
Nuer people marched on the remote town of Pibor, home to the rival
Murle, whom they blame for cattle raiding and have vowed to exterminate.
by the Small Arms Survey, a Swiss-based research group, suggests that
the rampaging fighters were armed by a local rebel leader called George
Athor - killed in December - as well as elements in the South Sudanese
"What is clear is that the inter-communal attack
demonstrated an unprecedented level of organisation and scale of
violence in South Sudan," the report said.
Analysis of bullet
casings left after the attacks, as well as photographs of men with
Kalashnikov automatic rifles and rocket-propelled grenades, "seems to
confirm previous allegations that Athor had armed thousands of Nuer
youth in Jonglei state," the report read.
Reports at the time
suggested the militia force - who called themselves the White Army -
received tacit, if not direct, support from the Southern army, who
failed to stop the advancing column, claims the military has dismissed.
Kalashnikov bullets found close to massacre sites are the same as those
used by the military, the Sudan Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA), the
"This variety of ammunition is held in vast
quantities by the SPLA, supporting allegations that Nuer members of the
SPLA supported the White Army's attack on Pibor," the report added.
Scores of people
testimonies gathered by the aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF -
Medecins Sans Frontieres) include reports of babies beaten against trees
and women forced to watch their children have their throats slit.
of people were treated for machete and gunshot wounds at clinics, and
over 140 000 people were affected by the attacks and reprisal raids.
impoverished South Sudan, the world's newest nation which declared
independence last July, is reeling from a wave of bloody ethnic violence
and rebel attacks.
South Sudan had accused Athor of being armed
by and acting on behalf of Sudan in a bid to destabilise the country,
which won independence in July, five years after the end of a two-decade
civil war with Khartoum, claims Athor denied.
After the attack,
Pibor Commissioner Joshua Konyi said he believed some 3,000 people had
been killed, based on reports from community elders of those missing.
Nations peacekeepers dispute those figures - estimating deaths to be
likely in the hundreds, not thousands - but are unable to say how many
civilians they failed to protect.