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article imageAfter becoming a new nation, South Sudan grapples with violence

By Yukio Strachan     Jan 16, 2012 in World
When many were asleep in their huts, a South Sudanese tribe killed 57 people — mostly women and children — in retaliation for a previous assault, officials say, renewing a cycle of revenge.
"They were gunned down as a family. Her mother and sisters, all four of them are dead there", says Mangiro, as he sits vigil at the bedside of his nine-year-old daughter, Ngathim who is recovering from gunshot wounds, AFP news reported.
"This child was carried by her mother, and her mother was killed," he says, " the next day we carried the child out from under her mother."
Mangiro shares this story with many other families in the region of Jonglei state where last Wednesday the attackers — from the Murle tribe — killed 57 people,mostly women and children, leaving another 52 wounded the Associated Press reported.
South Sudan's Minister of Information Barnaba Marial Benjamin said the Murle attacked "from 1700 hours (5pm) until midnight. That's why so many families got killed in their homes."
Since June 2011, tribal revenge attacks between the Nuer and Murle tribes over cattle raids have killed thousands of people and wounded thousands more.
In this latest cycle of revenge, members from the Murle tribe were responding to an earlier assault by 8,000 armed youth from the Lou Nuer on the town of Pibor, which is home to the Murle.
That attack left over 3000 people dead, mostly women and children, with the attackers taking with them over 375,000 cows.
Cultural norms in South Sudan portray the ownership of cattle as a sign of status and wealth. Cattle also have a very important use: payment of bride price, the Sudan Tribune reported.
Herd of Cows on the road to Bor  Jonglei state guarded by men with guns
Herd of Cows on the road to Bor, Jonglei state guarded by men with guns
bbcworldservice
James Amuor, a youth from Jonglei state, told Africa's Inter Press Service news that a bride could cost as much as 100 head of cattle. “Some youth are involved in cattle rustling because they want to marry and they don’t have the required cattle. They have to go and raid cattle to raise a dowry to marry the girl of their choice.”
If raising a dowry doesn't work, there's another way. According to Inter press Service, during these cattle raids attackers often kidnap women and children. These women are then taken as "wives" and the children are assimilated into the new culture of their abductors and become their children.
It is this cycle repeated over and over again in a country without a trusted justice system to get fair restitution for violations that tribes take matters into their own hands. Literally.
Gabriel Gai Riem, the Jonglei state Minister of Parliamentary Affairs said: "It is very difficult to convince people not to (take) revenge after they have lost all these people and cattle," But he added, "only dialogue will stop (the) violence among communities."
More about south sudan, Cattle, Ethnic violence, children killed, Child abduction
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