South Sudan Church Attack Victims Buried In Mass grave
Thirty-three people who were killed during an attack on a Cathedral in South Sudan have been buried in several mass graves.
Gunmen stormed St Luke’s Cathedral cathedral, Makol Chuei, in the diocese of Athooch, in Jonglei state on July 27. The Dean of the Cathedral, Reverend Daniel Garang Ayuen, was killed and the building badly vandalized.
The militants attacked Makol Chuei village from two directions, and later stormed the Cathedral where their victims, mostly women and children had sought refuge. They reportedly destroyed worship instruments and set the area ablaze along with the entire village.
It is not clear why it took two weeks for news of the attack to come out. The Murle, the Dinka and the Nuer have long engaged in a cycle of cattle raids and revenge attacks.
“It was a revenge attack that led to the killing of innocent people who sought refuge inside the church compound,” Bishop Anur told the BBC in the capital, Juba, on Sunday.
The entire village of Makol Chuei is now deserted.
The All Africa Conference of Churches called on regional and international bodies to “take this attack as an assault on world peace, and demand for the full implementation of the long delayed peace agreement in South Sudan, to bring to a stop the inter-communal violence. The people of South Sudan deserve to live in peace to develop their lives and their country.”
In a letter to the Primate of South Sudan, the Most Revd Justin Badi Arama, the Conference said: “We join you in mourning as we remember all those who succumbed, as well as praying for the quick recovery of the 20 people who were wounded.
“It is particularly distressing that the attackers killed all the children they abducted in the bush. These are innocent souls who do not even have any idea as to what the conflict is all about, and to kill them is very cruel. We pray for their families, their friends, and the extended community that grieves this loss.”
Although the majority of South Sudan’s population are Christian, they are from many different tribes. Inter-communal violence has scarred the country and cost thousands of lives.
President Salva Kiir, in an attempt to tackle insecurity and stem retaliatory tribal attacks in a country fractured along ethnic lines, launched a disarmament program which has since backfired.
A confrontation between the army and tribal warriors during the exercise led to at least 127 deaths according to the country’s military.
The U.N. said it sent peacekeepers in the area to engage with local authorities and community leaders to prevent further violence and help with reconciliation efforts.
The disarmament of civilians is part of a peace agreement signed between South Sudanese President Salva Kiir and opposition leader Riek Machar in February after many months of negotiations.
Kiir and Machar agreed to form a government of national unity in which both hold key leadership positions.
So far, a partial unity government has been formed and state governors have been appointed but parliament has yet to be reconstituted.