Death Toll Climbs in Cross-border Ethiopia Raid
The death toll from a raid into Ethiopia by South Sudanese gunmen has risen to 208, according to top Ethiopian officials.
Mothers and children were among those killed in the attack on villages in Ethiopia’s western Gambella region Friday. The assailants also kidnapped more than 100 children and stole more than 2,000 cattle, authorities say.
“There had previously been abduction of children and raiding of cattle from Gambella through crossing the Ethiopian border; however, Friday’s attack was massive,” Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn said on state television Sunday evening.
Ethiopia is blaming the attack on members of South Sudan’s Murle tribe, who often stage cross-border cattle and kidnapping raids.
Officials say Ethiopian forces killed “60 members of the attackers” so far, and troops had crossed into South Sudan to continue to pursue the gunmen.
Local journalists reported the attackers were carrying AK-47 assault rifles and that the men were killing anyone who resisted.
Ethiopia is host to thousands of South Sudanese refugees – about 272,000 in the Gambella region, which borders South Sudan – who fled after war broke out in their country in December 2013. Tens of thousands have been killed and more than 2 million people forced to flee their homes during the war.
Ethiopian officials say the raid has no connection to either the South Sudanese government or the country’s rebel groups.