79 Killed in Cattle Raid: S. Sudan Blames Khartoum
South Sudan today accused its former foes in the Khartoum government of arming gunmen who killed 79 people in a cattle raid, as the UN warned tensions between the two sides risk regional peace.
"A militia group from Unity state penetrated into Warrap state... And attacked people in a cattle camp," said Interior Minister Alison Manani Magaya, adding 79 people had been killed, updating an earlier toll of 40.
"This militia group was armed by the government of Khartoum," he said, adding that "mostly the women and children were killed" in the latest wave of violence in the world's newest nation.
"More weapons are flowing in from Khartoum... Particularly Unity state and Upper Nile," he said, referring to South Sudan's oil-producing states.
But Sudan's army spokesman Sawarmi Khaled Saad denied the allegations, saying: "We don't have any connection with this. We never support any armed opposition in South Sudan or any place."
South Sudan seceded peacefully from Sudan in July after decades of war, but both countries have since repeatedly exchanged allegations that each side backs proxy rebel forces against the other.
Oil-rich but grossly impoverished South Sudan was left awash with guns after years of conflict, and brutal tit-for-tat raids by rival ethnic groups to steal cattle from each other are common.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that tensions and a furious row over oil between the former enemies has become a major threat to regional peace and security.
Key issues unresolved at independence have escalated into bitter arguments, including a row over pipeline transit fees to transport the landlocked South's oil to port in the rump state of Sudan.