April 18, 2016 / 7:02 AM / 4 years ago

Ethiopia says death toll from raid rises to 208; 108 children kidnapped

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) - The death toll from a raid carried out by South Sudanese gunmen in western Ethiopia has risen to 208 people and the assailants kidnapped 108 children, an Ethiopian official said on Sunday.

The attack took place on Friday in the Horn of Africa

nation’s Gambela region which, alongside a neighbouring province, hosts more than 284,000 South Sudanese refugees who fled conflict in their country.

By Sunday afternoon, the number had risen to “208 dead and

75 people wounded” from 140 a day earlier, government spokesman

Getachew Reda told Reuters, adding the assailants had also

abducted 108 children and taken 2,000 head of livestock.

“Ethiopian Defence Forces are taking measures. They are

closing in on the attackers,” he said.

Getachew did not give further details, but officials in

Gambela said on Saturday Ethiopian troops had crossed the

border in pursuit of the attackers.

Cross-border cattle raids have occurred in the same area in the past, often involving Murle tribesmen from South Sudan’s Jonglei and Upper Nile regions - areas awash with weapons that share borders with Ethiopia.

Previous attacks, however, were smaller in scale.

The gunmen are not believed to have links with South

Sudanese government troops or rebel forces who fought the

government in Juba in a civil war that ended with a peace deal

signed last year.

South Sudanese officials were not immediately available for


Under pressure from neighbouring states, the United States,

the United Nations and other powers, South Sudan’s feuding sides

signed an initial peace deal in August and agreed to share out

ministerial positions in January.

Reporting by Aaron Maasho; Editing by Elias Biryabarema and Stephen Powell

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