10 killed in clashes between army and civilians in South Sudan
Juba, Sep 20 (IANS) At least ten civilians and security officers have been killed following two days of clashes in Pochalla town of Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) in eastern South Sudan, the army has said.
Lul Ruai Koang, spokesperson for the South Sudanese army, told Xinhua news agency on Tuesday that the clashes that broke out on Sunday started after the army pursued an officer who had escaped detention.
He said the escapee had gone into hiding at the home of his former commander, Okony Okwom Othow, who had himself absconded from duty in May after refusing orders to deploy him to another station.
"Whenever a soldier commits a crime or disobeys lawful orders, he would go and report to Okwom. So on Sunday, there was a soldier that sold ammunition and guns and was arrested; that soldier escaped from prison and reported to his (Okwom) area," Koang said in an interview on Tuesday in the South Sudanese capital of Juba.
He disclosed that clashes erupted on Sunday evening till Monday when soldiers were dispatched to re-arrest their colleague who had escaped detention.
"They were attacked by armed Anyuak youth supporting the former commander who was later killed; that angered the armed youth who on Monday came in large numbers and attacked our position, but they were repelled," Koang said.
In June, the same armed Anyuak youth killed Samuel Ojulu Ochalla, the former commissioner of Pochalla County, after they rejected his appointment.
The GPAA, which borders Ethiopia, is prone to inter-communal violence, particularly between the pastoral tribe of Murle and the Dinka and Nuer tribes in neighbouring Jonglei State.
The violence is often characterized by looting of cattle, revenge killings, and women and child abduction.