Human Rights Watch [official website] Director Daniel Bekele [HRW profile] on Friday urged South Sudan to investigate [HRW report] attacks made on Murle villages in December and prosecute those responsible. In this organized attack [UN News Centre report], thousands of armed Lou Nuer villagers invaded the Murle villages, robbing and burning houses and killing thousands of people. South Sudan's government has claimed repeatedly that it will investigate [South Sudan government news reports] the attacks and punish those who are responsible, but HRW says that no progress has been made. "For speed and credibility's sake, the government should ask the UN and African bodies for help," Bekele said. Since the December attack, there have been retaliation attacks [Sudan Tribune report] made by Murles, and threats of another full-scale attack [press release] by the Lou Nuers have been made.
The UN has been closely monitoring the situation and providing humanitarian relief [UN News Centre report] to victims of the attacks but has called on the South Sudan government to take control of the situation. The Lou Nuers and Murles have been at odds for hundreds of years [VOA report], attacking each others' villages to steal cattle. It is only recently that these raids have become as organized and deadly as the December Lou Nuer attack. Acquisition of deadly weapons, partially due to creation of militias during the country's recent civil war, which resulted in the secession of South Sudan [JURIST report], has taken the violence to a new level, causing heightened concern from the UN and human rights groups.