Joint Military Action across Border might follow
Heavily armed grouped attacked the Jakawa area in Gambella Regional State Friday and claimed the lives of 142 civilians.
As of now, there is no information linking the armed group with any of the oppositions or neighboring South Sudan, reports the state affiliated Fana Broadcasting Corporation.
However according to Sudan Tribune the “massive and coordinated” attack was carried out by combined military and armed Mulre civilians from South Sudan’s Buma State, a claim confirmed by Getachew Reda, Minister of the Ministry of Government Communication Affairs.
Thousands of heavily armed men, mostly in South Sudanese military uniform crossed the Ethiopian border and attacked 10 villages inhabited by the Nuer ethnic group according reports the Tribune. Most of those feared dead are women and children.
Government Communication Affairs Office states that the Ethiopian National Defense Force(ENDF) is responding by “taking measures on the perpetrators,” according to Fana BC, which might bring the death toll higher.
Eyewitnesses who talked to the Sudan Tribune claimed that more than 50 Mulre attackers were killed.Fana BC puts the number of Mulre attacker killed by ENDF at 60, a number confirmed by Getachew.
Speaking to Addis Standard, Getachew states that in addition to the killings, 32 children have been abducted. Even though the perpetrators were in South Sudanese military uniform, the South Sudanese government has disassociates itself from the attackers according to Getachew.
“We are currently under discussions with the South Sudanese government and if necessary we might as well take joint military actions across the border against the perpetrators,” he says.
Confrontations, mostly over grazing land, of violent nature have happened in the area before according to Getachew.
Gambella, located on the Southwestern tip of the country, is an area prone to conflicts. Most notably in 2003, in what is now largely known as ‘the Gambella Massacre’ hundreds of ethnic Agnuaks were killed in the hands of government security forces and civilian ‘highlanders,’ according to the Human Rights Watch.