KHARTOUM, Sudan – Ethnic fighting in southern Sudan claimed 76 lives over the weekend as tribal militias attacked the village of Duk Padiet, burning more than 2,000 homes, officials said Monday.
Among the dead were about two dozen government security officers who were defending the village, according to Maj. Gen. Kuol Diem Kuol, spokesman for the southern Sudan army.
At least 46 people were injured and 1,800 were left homeless, he said.
The raid was part of a surge of violence in southern Sudan that has killed more than 2,000 people in 2009 and displaced another 250,000, according to the United Nations.
Cattle-rustling and competition for food and land are blamed for much of the bloodshed.
“One attack leads to another, resulting in a spiral of attack and counter- attacks,” Lise Grande, the U.N. deputy resident humanitarian coordinator in southern Sudan, said during a briefing in August. “The fact that these attacks are targeting civilians, mostly women and children, is a very disturbing trend.”
But some government officials in southern Sudan, which fought a 21-year civil war against the north that ended in 2005, also see political motivations behind the fighting. They accuse their northern counterparts of secretly arming some southern tribes to create instability before a 2011 referendum in which southerners are expected to vote to secede from the north.