1 January 2012
Juba — South Sudanese MPs from the Murle community have blamed the army and UN peacekeepers for allowing armed men from the Luo-Nuer ethnic group to attack Pibor town on Saturday.
The spokesperson of the South Sudanese military (SPLA) told Sudan Tribune that his forces along with the troops of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were overwhelmed as thousands of the armed angry youth overran the town setting houses a blaze.
Colonel Philip Aguer said SPLA forces only managed to protect some strategic administrative locations. There are reports that a hospital has also been set on fire.
Medical charity MSF told the BBC today that they have lost contact with over 100 of their staff who are believed to have fled the town along with most of the other inhabitants.
Acting commissioner of Pibor county, Allan Kitero, said most civilians fled southwards for their safety hours before the fighting erupted. No casualties have been yet reported.
South Sudan’s Vice President, Riek Machar, was still in the previously captured town of Linkwangole when the Luo-Nuer began their assault on Pibor town on Saturday afternoon while he was trying to persuade them not to go ahead with the attack.
After the assault started he flew into Pibor town on a UN helicopter – against the advice of the SPLA and UN – to try and convince the leader of the group to stop the offensive.
Machar was later flown to Juba as the fighting got closer to the airport. Suda Tribune has been told that the SPLA and UNMISS forces managed to maintain control of the airport.
Some civilians including women and children took refuge overnight at the airstrip.
The Red Cross is calling on the South Sudanese government to restore security to allow a humanitarian assessment to go ahead and for other NGOs to provide support for the thousands of displaced,
Over 1,000 people died last year in fighting between the two groups, which began as cattle raiding but has escalated into revenge attacks.
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