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Source: Radio Tamazuj

Parts of Lakes State have descended into lawlessness after the unsolved murder of a chief two weeks ago sparked reprisal killings, with unrest now spilling into neighboring states.

An unknown gunman shot dead Paramount Chief Apareer Chut Dhuol from the Gonyi section on 4 August, according to local media reports.

Since then, over a dozen women have been raped, schools have been ransacked with students targeted, and at least two people have been murdered all in apparent retaliation by Dhuol’s supporters.

Supporters of the late chief have allegedly gone on looting and cattle rustling sprees, while other chiefs in Lakes have fled to Warrap in fear for their safety.

Most of the violence has centered around Rumbek East county, with attackers targeting women and children.

Lakes state activist Moses Majok told Sudan Tribune that the late chief’s supporters rampaged through areas of the Thuyic clan.

Police said that 13 women, including a 12-year-old girl and two pregnant women were raped as retaliation for the chief’s killing. A member of state parliament speaking to Eye Radio said the number could be as high as 16.

“From the source on the ground, some are telling us up to 16 women got raped. And from those who were brought to hospital, the figure we are getting is about eight,” said MP Marik Nangar Nanga.

Students flee

In Rumbek East, schools were ransacked as the attackers sought revenge, forcing 3000 students to flee to Rumbek town for safety.

State education minister Dut Makoi Kuok told Radio Miraya that attackers “were looking for grown up children to kill because of the killing of the Paramount Chief.” Kuok said that CueiChok, Maleng-Agok, Panbakou, and Gorok primary schools have all shut down.

Authorities reportedly deployed police and military to Barnaam in Rumbek East who slaughtered livestock belonging to Thuyic people.

Cattle raiders also killed at least two people in Rumbek North according to a 14 August UN radio bulletin.

The unrest is spreading across state lines, too, as cattle raiders from Lakes attacked Mvolo County in Western Equatoria this week. The Mvolo attackers stole more than two dozen cattle and killed a member of the security forces named Corporal John Kuch Mayor before fleeing to Rumbek East, according to another UN radio report.

Three other Lakes chiefs fled to Warrap days after chief Dhuol’s murder, apparently because they feared for their safety at the hands of Lakes state authorities.  The three, named by Sudan Tribune as Meen Pec, Det Wantok and Makur Nyuar, hail from Cueibet county and had been attempting to join Tonj South in Warrap, against the wishes of Lakes’ military caretaker governor Major General Matur Chut Dhuol.

Increasing militarization

The unrest in Lakes points to increasing militarization of communities against one another, and discontent in some areas with the leadership of caretaker governor Dhuol.

Caretaker governor Dhuol is the brother of the slain chief Dhuol. The caretaker governor was appointed to this role in January 2013 by President Salva Kiir, after the removal of the elected governor Chol Tong Mayay, who is now part of an exiled opposition faction of the previously united ruling party.

Over the last year Lakes has witnessed a number of bloody cattle raids carried out by youth of different clans. Many of these youth have resisted recruitment into the SPLA-Juba faction, which controls the state government of caretaker governor Dhuol.

Chief Dhuol’s killer remains at large. The motive for the crime also remains unknown, though some suspect that it was revenge for murder of late paramount chief Maker Mabor in 2002 by the late chief Dhuol’s son.

Police told Sudan Tribune that the public is not sharing information with law enforcement due to their discontent with authorities.

Caretaker governor Dhuol has appealed for calm, but the unrest has motivated nongovernment leaders to intervene. Archbishop of the Episcopal Church of Sudan, Daniel Deng Bul is in Rumbek now in an attempt to stem the violence, reported Radio Miraya.

“I came purposely for peace issues and you see and we have listens that there are conflicts in Rumbek communities,” Bul said. He said that the church was pained to learn that the people of Lakes are killing each other and that the he will work to bring peace.

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