Thousands feared dead in Sudan tribal war

A CENTURY of enmity between two cattle-herding tribes in an isolated corner of the world's newest country has burst into the open in killings and revenge attacks.

For more than a week Aliye Amor has slept on the ground, being among tens of thousands left homeless by raiders. Attacks in South Sudan have killed scores, hundreds or possibly thousands of people in just a few weeks.

When 6000 or more warriors from the Lou Nuer tribe descended on Pibor Country in December to attack Murle residents, neither UN forces or South Sudan troops could stop them. Thousands fled into the bush, where dozens, hundreds or thousands were killed.

A government official from the Murle tribe reported that more than 3000 had died, but neither the UN nor the central government has verified the toll.

On Thursday Amor waited for sorghum, beans, oil and salt from the World Food Programme. "They killed the women, they killed the children," she said. The Lou Nuer's attack lasted about a week and then subsided. Now, reprisal attacks by the Murle have begun.

The 23-year civil war between South Sudan and its northern neighbour, Sudan, flooded the region with arms.

"Cattle rustling has been there since 1898," a government spokesman said. "But in those days they were using spears and sticks."