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06KHARTOUM942 2006-04-19 09:11:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Khartoum
Cable title:  

Southern Sudan: Unidentified Militia Menaces

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DE RUEHKH #0942/01 1090911
R 190911Z APR 06
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KHARTOUM 000942 



E.O. 12958: TBD
SUBJECT: Southern Sudan: Unidentified Militia Menaces
Pochalla, Attacks Villages

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: The SPLA force commander in Pochalla
told a WFP security officer that an unknown militia group
attacked a small village between Akobo and Pochalla on
the Ethiopian border on April 12. According to the
commander, the group looted and occupied the village for
three days and then began moving towards Pochalla.
During this time, women and children in Pochalla fled
into the bush for safety. By April 15, the militia group
had reportedly returned to Ethiopia before reaching the
town, the women and children had returned, and the
situation was calm. While the SPLA commander in Pochalla
believes the Ethiopian army orchestrated the attack, an
SPLA spokesperson said that the Ethiopian army had not
been given permission to cross the border and that the
Ethiopian army remained in place, 17 km into Ethiopia.
The UN security level for the area remains Phase 3 level
4, but WFP security believes it will drop to level 2 or 3
after an UNMIS team returns from its investigation on
April 17. End Summary.


Cross-Border Ethnic Tensions


2. (U) The area around Pochalla is dominated by ethnic
Anuaks, many of whom fled a massacre in Gambella in 2003.
While these people are technically refugees, they do not
live in camps and are fully integrated into the
communities in Sudan. The Anuak population moves freely,
and frequently, between Ethiopia and Sudan.

3. (SBU) The residents in Pochalla, including the Anuak
SPLA commander, told the WFP security officer that the
attackers, although not in uniform, were Ethiopian
soldiers attempting to forcibly repatriate the Anuaks to
Ethiopia. The WFP security officer was unable to confirm
the identity or origin of the attackers. A WHO employee
who was in Pochalla through April 14 also said that the
women and children had fled Pochalla and subsequently
returned. Total casualties are unknown; in addition to
the village they occupied, the militia reportedly looted
other villages in their path during their foray and


SPLA Says Sit Tight


4. (SBU) The Pochalla SPLA commander told the WFP that he
had requested permission from SPLA command to attack the
militia group when it occupied the village north of
Pochalla, but was told to stand down for fear of
escalating the situation. According to an SPLA
spokesperson, there have been some tensions between the
SPLA and the Ethiopian army because the Ethiopians
suspect an Anuak SPLA officer in the area of being
involved with rebel activities in Ethiopia.


Conclusion and Comment


5. (SBU) Early reports described a coordinated effort
between the Ethiopian Army and the SPLA to enter Sudan.
The SPLA and the Ethiopian army have been collaborating
on disarming refugee militias, but the SPLA is disarming
the Anuaks in Sudan, while the Ethiopians disarm Nuer in
their country. An SPLA spokesperson denies giving
permission for this attack or for any incursion by the
Ethiopian Army into Sudan. Reports of border closings
have also been disputed by both the SPLA and sources on
the ground.

6. (SBU) The identity of the raiding force remains
unclear, as does the reason it turned back before
reaching Pochalla. There are unconfirmed reports that
the GoSS and the governor of Jonglei secretly brokered a
deal with the Ethiopian government to stop the attack.
GoSS contacts have been unavailable over the Easter
holiday. It is possible that the force feared the
response of the Anuak militia and SPLA defense forces in
Pochalla, and had only planned to loot the more
vulnerable outer settlements.

7. (SBU) The SPLA commander in Pochalla told the WFP that
he was very disappointed with the weak response from the
SPLA command. However, considering the SPLA commander's
conviction that the Ethiopian army was behind the
attacks, the SPLA may have simply feared the commander
would use these raids as an excuse to attack the
Ethiopian army position just across the border.

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