At least 24 people have been killed in the last few days following clashes between Messiraya nomads from Sudan and residents of Aweil East County of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State of South Sudan, the state’s Information Minister confirmed on Wednesday.
Speaking to The EastAfrican on the phone, Northern Bahr-El-Ghazel Information Minister William Anyuon Kuol said fresh clashes on Wednesday morning left 15 more killed.
“We have been having a series of attacks on civilian settlements,” he added.
Mr Kuol said the national army repulsed the attackers. However, the South Sudan People Defense Forces is yet to confirm the incident.
“Up to now we have been told they are still there and we don’t know what will happen next. That area has no network coverage. We are relying on radio communication with military garrisons in that area,” he claimed.
Aweil is near the Sudan and South Sudan border.
On Tuesday, Aweil East County commissioner Kiir Yor Lual said at least nine people were killed in separate attacks in the last five days in the area.
He called on the national government to engage neighbouring authorities to resolve the crisis.
Efforts to get Sudan’s authorities for comments were not successful.
However, the representative of the Messiraya community in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, Ibrahim Marek, who is also a senior member of the border peace committee comprised of the Dinka Malual and Messiraya, condemned the attacks and called on the Sudanese government to immediately intervene to avoid further escalation.
Past attacks in Aweil have been associated with conflict over grazing land between the Sudanese Messiraya nomads and the South Sudanese Aweil locals.
Due to season change in Sudan, Messiraya nomads with their herds of cattle normally move to South Sudan’s Aweil and Abyei areas in search of water and pasture.
Several peace conferences between Dinka Malual and Messiraya have been held in the past, resulting in resolutions of maintaining peace, monitoring crime, and payment of blood compensation in case of murder.