Authorities in Panyikang County of Upper Nile state reported on Friday that 17 civilians were killed and several others are unaccounted for, following attack on the area on Wednesday.
The Commissioner Mustafa Gai said, the mid-week “targeted” attack left unspecified number of people injured and others missing.
He further said several people were reported to have drowned in the river while fleeing the attackers allegedly identified as armed youth from the neighboring counties.
“The number of people who died in the attack and have been buried is 17 people. This issue needs us to sit down and count the number of dead because there are others who were shot in the river,” said Gai.
The deadly attack followed heavy fighting between armed factions in Tonga town and neighboring Panyikang County of Upper Nile State, as well as northern Fangak County of Jonglei State.
According to the official, up to 5,000 people have been displaced from the area, most of whom are currently headed for Malakal Protection of Civilian Site.
“So, our assessment in the area will let us know how many were killed after being shot in the river. And it will also enable us to know the number of missing people and count them.”
Meanwhile, the UN Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan released a statement condemning the latest violence against civilians in Panyikang County.
Sara Beysolow Nyanti called for an immediate cessation of hostilities among the warring parties.
In a statement issued on September 8th, Nyanti appealed for a resolution to the conflict, and warned that without peace, civilians there will continue to suffer and die under their watch.
“I was in Adidiang a week ago, and I am devastated that the women, children, and elderly people I met have suffered further violence and trauma”, said Nyanti.
On Thursday, unverified reports obtained by the UN agency has put the number of people killed during the attack at 300.
Initial reports also describe unimaginable scenes of Adidiang set on fire, humanitarian structures destroyed and civilians fleeing the fighting by canoes and boats, leaving several people drowning.
According to the UNOCHA, thousands of people have been displaced across many areas of Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Unity states following heavy fighting between armed factions in Tonga town and neighboring Panyikang since August.
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