Unexpected raids by South Sudan’s Murle tribesmen against the Ethiopian Gambella region Nuers tribe has resulted in a massacre of 208 villagers, abduction of 125 children and 2008 cattle. What makes the April 15, 2016 attack unusual is the large scale and deadly occurrence of this incident, which is much different compared to the previous and frequent tribal clashes between the two bordering countries. Murle tribes from the Eastern Jonglei region of South Sudan often cross the South Western Ethiopian border (Gambella region) and attack the inhabited tribes, steal their cattle and snatch their children.
It was reported that well organized attackers in military dress, armed with machine guns, killed without discrimination, wasting anyone who tried to stop them.
Children up to “three-years-old” and family members in mass have been killed.
Consequently, Ethiopia declared two days mourning in memory of those killed in the attack.
Troops have been sent to South Sudan in search of the abducted children. Government officials from Ethiopia publically announced that the appropriate measures would be taken, and the military unit will hunt the attacker “where ever they may go” until the abducted children rescued. The South Sudan government is fully cooperating in the rescue operation. On May 20th, the Ambassador of South Sudan to Ethiopia expressed that the incident is “totally unacceptable and inhuman”. South Sudan will collaborate with Ethiopia in taking measures against the killing and kidnapping, as the Ambassador further told to the Ethiopian News Agency (ENA). Recently it was reported that 56 children of the 125 abducted children have been released as of May 23rd, the rest are still in the hands of Murle tribes. Ethiopian troops are still in search and announced that they have identified the location of the remaining abducted women and children and have them surrounded .
A bilateral talk was hosted in Gambella on May 21st and was aimed at formulating lasting solutions to the deadly attacks inside Ethiopia. High military and regional administration personalities of both countries were in attendance. Ethiopia’s Defense Minister Siraj Fergesa, Chief Administrator of the regional state of Gambella, South Sudan deputy defense minister Lieutenant General David Yau Yau and senior military officers and elders were all participants of the forum. Siraj Fergesa stated that the rescue efforts will continue intensely and will not cease until the kidnapped children are returned safely.
Undertaking ongoing diplomatic efforts for the return of abducted children and cattle, developing ways to ensure peace and stability in shared border areas and creating strong interpersonal ties in the surrounding areas were key issues discussed.
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