In what the excerpted accompanying article from Radio France Internationale describes as a disarmament exercise gone awry, over 120 people were killed in South Sudan’s Warrap State. The death toll included 45 soldiers and 82 young people from the local area, but the numbers on both sides are expected to rise.

The exact details of what led to the violent confrontation are a bit uncertain. A spokesman from South Sudan People’s Defense Forces—the country’s army—said the trouble began when soldiers and armed young people started to argue. After that initial confrontation was dealt with, the youths then gathered to attack an army position. However, local sources claim the violence began when a scuffle occurred in the market, resulting in a soldier killing a young person who had refused to hand over his weapon during the disarmament operation. This led to the locals attacking the soldiers. Whatever the initial cause of the confrontation, fighting between the two armed groups ensued and the number of dead on both sides soon increased.

As the article notes, six years into a civil war and the country is awash in weapons. These are not only for use in the fighting among opposing ethnic groups but also for the largely rural population to protect themselves against looting and cattle rustling. As these people do not have confidence in the military and other security forces to protect them, they are very hesitant to surrender their arms, deeming them essential.

While this brief article does not mention it, a peace deal signed this year, which included an agreement on disarmament of civilians, is supposed to end the civil war. However, the world’s newest country has had several failed peace deals before, and strong concerns over the present one give many people pause as to whether the fighting will really end. It is against this backdrop, uncertainty regarding peace as well as a desire to protect themselves from local crime, that the disarmament operation was attempted.

More than 120 people have been killed in South Sudan’s Warrap State during a disarmament exercise gone awry, the country’s army spokesperson said on Wednesday

Source: “127 soldiers and civilians killed in South Sudan over disarmament dispute,” RFI (Radio France Internationale), 12 August 2020. https://www.rfi.fr/en/africa/20200812-127-soldiers-and-civilians-killed-in-south-sudan-over-disarmament-dispute

More than 120 people have been killed in South Sudan’s Warrap State during a disarmament exercise gone awry, the country’s army spokesperson said on Wednesday. Clashes between soldiers and armed civilians in Tonj town, some 430 kilometres north west of the capital Juba, were sparked by a disagreement over an operation to disarm civilians.

Dujarric said women and children had fled in fear of their lives and the UN was sending a peacekeeping patrol to assess security.

Hits: 0