Thirty-seven people have been killed in the remote South Sudan town of Mayendit after a massive gun battle erupted at attempted “peace talks” intended to resolve ongoing tribal tensions in the area.
“People were just shooting at each other, without knowing whose police and army they were,” noted Lakes State Governor Chol Tong Mayay, saying the cause of the clash still isn’t clear.
According to the UN’s account, four pick-up trucks full of men from the SPLA, the military for South Sudan, showed up at the meeting at the Mayendit County Commissioner’s compound and “started shooting indiscriminately.”
Accounts from those present at the compound say that everyone from police to wildlife officers just started spraying the room with bullets once the shooting started. Although some of the dead were civilians, the majority were apparently police.
The “peace talks” were called after armed youths from Mayendit attacked a neighboring tribal area over allegations of cattle rustling on Saturday. That attack claimed 74 lives, all of them Tonj residents, who had previously been disarmed by the military.