NAIROBI, Kenya — A "massive humanitarian emergency operation" is being launched by the UN in response to recent cattle-raiding attacks in South Sudan that one local official says killed more than 3,000 people.
At the weekend around 6,000 Lou-Nuer warriors swept through Pibor County in Jonglei State in the east of the country. They were armed with AK47s and came in search of cattle and blood, attacking communities of Murle people.
Hundreds of South Sudan soldiers and UN peacekeepers could do little to prevent the killing which happened mostly outside town in far-flung villages and even smaller settlements. It is estimated that as many as 50,000 people fled their homes to escape the deadly raids.
Monday local official Joshua Konyi, himself a member of the Murle tribe, claimed that over 3,000 Murle had died in the recent attacks, but government and UN sources were unwilling to confirm his numbers.
Cattle-raiding is an age-old tradition amongst the cow keeping people of South Sudan but it has changed over the last couple of generations: where once it was done with spears and clubs, warriors today wield assault rifles.
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