Juba, Sep 20 (EFE).- At least eleven people died, including a senior South Sudanese military officer, in a gun battle between the army and members of an ethnic community in the south of the African country, an official said on Wednesday.
The gunfire on Tuesday began when a group of “armed youths” from the Anyuak ethnic group attacked a military base in the southeast of the country, army spokesperson Lul Ruai Koang told EFE.
The base commander was killed, and several soldiers were wounded in the clash.
The clash occurred amid tension raging in the region after armed men from the Anyuak ethnic group murdered the governor of Pibor al Kobra, Samuel Ochella, in July.
“Members of the same community were the ones who attacked the barracks and killed its commander, supposedly for objecting to the presence of the army in their region,” the spokesperson said.
Pochala governor Oweti Ulony told EFE that “the army used heavy weapons, including artillery, projectiles, and military aircraft, against the armed men who broke into the garrison, which caused the deaths of the barracks commander and 10 armed young people.”
According to Ulony, the confrontation broke out after soldiers from the military base “fired heavily into the air, causing a state of alert among the armed youth” of the ethnic group who live near the camp.”
He said the Anyuaks had been protesting about the low level of their community representation in the local government after the new administrative division of the southern region of South Sudan post independence in 2011.
Ulony said the central government “punished the Anyuak activists with sanctions that went as far as depriving members of the community, employed in the local government, of their salaries.”
Tensions and clashes in the region date back to 2012 due to the demands of members of the Anyuak ethnic community not to be part of the Pibor Al Kobra, where they are a minority, due to the lack of equitable representation in government and the local legislative council. EFE