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South Sudan clashes death toll rises to 250

The death toll from clashes between rival ethnic groups in south Sudan has risen to 250 people, a district official said on Wednesday, with dozens of children also abducted.

world Updated: Apr 22, 2009 15:01 IST

The death toll from clashes between rival ethnic groups in south Sudan has risen to 250 people, a district official said on Wednesday, with dozens of children also abducted.

Armed fighters from the Murle ethnic group in remote Akobo county in eastern Jonglei state attacked Lou Nuer villages over the weekend, county commissioner Doyak Chol said, revising Monday's initial toll of 177 dead.

"We have recovered and counted 250 bodies and 33 children have been abducted by the Murle," Chol told AFP by satellite telephone.

"The destruction has been very bad, many huts have been burnt and destroyed," Chol said, adding that he expected more bodies to be found with a possible final toll of around 300 dead.

It was the second outbreak of deadly violence between the two ethnic groups in Jonglei in a month. In March, as many as 750 people were killed in clashes in Pibor county further south.

Chol said that the areas attacked had been left vulnerable after a government-backed disarmament campaign collected guns from one area, but not from other rival groups.

Jonglei state was one of the areas hardest hit in Sudan's two-decade-long north-south civil war, which ended in 2005.

But the state remains awash with small arms and there are frequent clashes between rival groups.

Authorities struggle to maintain order in the sprawling state, which is the size of Austria and Switzerland combined.

The limited dirt roads that cross the swampy region are often impassable for months at a time as a result of heavy rains.