50 dead in S Sudan tribal raids: officials

Juba - At least fifty people were killed in two raids by a tribal militia in eastern South Sudan, with about 60 women and children abducted, officials said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of attacks between rival communities.

Dut Achuek, a state minister, said eight people died in an attack on Monday in Jonglei State, while a follow-up raid on Tuesday left "23 women killed and... 19 men killed."

Most of the victims were civilians whose homes were burned and livestock stolen, Achuek said.

Both attacks, by armed men from the Murle ethnic group, targeted Dinkas living in villages about 150km north of Bor, the state capital.

Kudumoc Nyakurono, information minister for the neighbouring Boma State, confirmed the involvement of Murle militia members from the area.

"We know that these youth went there from Boma State," he said, adding that investigations were underway to work out the exact circumstances of the attacks.

David Shearer, head of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), condemned the killings "and the abduction of some 60 women and children which accompanied these attacks."

"I urge the leaders of both communities to rein in the youth, show restraint and to put an end to the cycle of revenge killings," he said.

Rival pastoralist communities in South Sudan have a long and bloody history of tit-for-tat raids in which cattle are rustled and property looted. Women are commonly raped and children abducted, adding fuel to revenge attacks.

In one of the worst such cases, over 3 000 people were killed when members of a well-armed Nuer militia attacked the Murle in 2012.