JUBA, Jan. 26 — South Sudan on Wednesday vowed to deploy military forces to stem rampant wave of child abductions and cattle rustling that are predominantly among rival pastoral tribes in the northern parts of the war-torn country.
The First Vice President Taban Deng Gai told journalists in Juba that the South Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) will soon start using heavy artilleries like Armoured Personnel Carriers and helicopter gunships against pastoral tribes like the Murle of the northeastern Pibor region near the Ethiopian border who have in the past wrecked havoc on their neighbors like the Dinka and Nuer in the Jonglei region.
“This time we must follow our orders, orders of the president must be fully implemented and we are going to do this whether it needs tanks, police or army because these (child abductors) criminals are armed to the teeth,” Deng said in Juba. He added that the rampant child abduction and cattle theft have destabilized national security and rendered the government weak in terms of offering protection to the local population, adding that they managed to dissuade recently Dinka and Nuer armed youth from carrying out revenge attacks against the Murle.
He said that joint efforts are urgently needed to stop child abductions not only in Jonglei since the vice was spreading as far as in the central Equatoria region. “Child abduction from communities of Boma is not only against the Dinka or Nuer it has even come to Central Equatoria. Yesterday (Tuesday) I was informed that the Murle went up to a place called Dima in Ethiopia and abducted children; the Ethiopian army was pursuing them,” he disclosed.
South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013 after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting between mostly Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group. The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee into exile. The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighboring countries. – XINHUA