Attacks by a renegade militia in south Sudan’s oil state of Jonglei have killed at least 211 people, a southern minister said on Tuesday, doubling earlier estimates of the death count.
The violence has rekindled concern for the security of the underdeveloped region, where voters last month overwhelmingly chose to declare independence from the north in a referendum.
South Sudan’s army said forces loyal to George Athor, a former army officer who launched a revolt after losing in last year’s elections, carried out attacks in Jonglei last week.
French oil group Total leads a consortium controlling a largely unexplored oil concession in Jonglei.
Army and government officials told Reuters on Tuesday the scale of the carnage emerged after searches found bodies of women, children and other civilians still lying in remote areas.
Pagan Amum, a senior member of the south’s ruling party, repeated accusations that the north was trying to destabilize the south by arming militias — but stopped short of directly implicating northern government figures.
“It was a massacre of our people and it is really very painful,” he told reporters. “We are a society that is traumatized … Guns are in a lot of hands.
“Today armed groups are being financed, being armed, being sent into southern Sudan from the north. You know that George Athor who just caused the massacre in Fangak, his guns are coming from Khartoum,” said Amum, secretary general of the dominant Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM).