In Gambella Death Toll Tops 200 in Cross-Border Raid By South Sudan Murle Tribe

The Murle, a tribe from South Sudan based in the western state of Jonglei, often stage raids to steal cattle and abduct children but rarely on such a large or deadly scale. (AFP Photo/Jose Cendon)

AFP

By Karim Lebhour

Addis Ababa – More than 200 people were killed and over 100 children abducted by armed men from South Sudan in a cross-border raid into Ethiopia, the country’s leader said.

Ethiopian officials blame Murle tribesmen from South Sudan for a series of deadly attacks on Ethiopian villages in the western Gambella region on Friday.

“The atrocities committed by an armed Murle tribe from South Sudan claimed the lives of 208,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on state television on Sunday evening, increasing the death toll from an earlier estimate of 140.

Hailemariam said “mothers and children” were among the dead and, “they also abducted 102 children.”

The foreign ministry said over 2,000 livestock were also stolen.

The Murle, a tribe from South Sudan based in the eastern Jonglei region close to the Ethiopian border, often stage raids to steal cattle and abduct children but rarely on such a large or deadly scale.

“There had been abduction of children and raiding of cattle from Gambella through crossing the Ethiopian border. However, Friday’s attack was massive” Hailemariam said.

“The Ethiopian defence force is taking measures against the attackers to free the abducted children without any precondition,” he said, without specifying whether Ethiopian troops had crossed the border into South Sudan…

The raid — dubbed the “Gambella massacre” in the Ethiopian media — reinforces long-standing fears that South Sudan’s civil war since December 2013 would spill into Ethiopia.

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Related:
South Sudanese Gunmen Kill At Least 140 Civilians In Ethiopia, Government Says (NPR)

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