A cross-border cattle raid carried out by South Sudan in western Ethiopia has left 208 people dead, with 108 children kidnapped.
Women and children from the Nuer community were the major victims as the assailants not only attacked the people but also took 2000 head of livestock.
“Ethiopian Defence Forces are taking measures. They are closing in on the attackers,” Ethiopia’s minister of communication, Getachew Reda told the Reuters news agency.
Cattle raids are nothing new in South Sudan, they are usually involving members of the Murle tribe from the South Sudan region of Jonglei. However, the attacks are increasingly crossing the border and apparent in western Ethiopia. Although other attacks have happened in the past in the same region, the minister said that they have never been as large as this.
The attackers laid siege to the region of Gambela in Ethiopia, attempting to rustle a head of cattle from the Gambela people, but it took a violent turn leading to not just the capture of the cattle but a death toll that has been increasing since the day of the attack on Friday, 15th April.
This region is also home to thousands of South Sudanese refugees who have fled their country due to the ongoing civil war. Considering the porosity of the Ethiopian-South Sudan border, it has become quite easy for anyone to move between both countries especially through the Gambela region.
The Ethiopian military has reportedly crossed the Ethiopian-South Sudan border in a bid to catch the attackers.
The assailants seem to be working independently. There have been no connections between them and the South Sudanese government or the rebel forces in the East African nation.
“We don’t think (the armed men) have any links to the South Sudan government or the rebels,” Ethiopian foreign ministry spokesman Tewolde Muluteg told AFP.