FANGAK, SUDAN (February 18, 2011) – Members of the Evangelical Covenant Church of Sudan (ECCS) were among the 241 people killed earlier this month when forces loyal to rebel leader George Athor attacked Fangak. More than 200 people also were wounded, according to multiple news sources.
Covenant World Relief (CWR) has sent emergency funds to the church to help pay for expenses related to hospitalization of the wounded. “Those people need immediate assistance because most of them are suffering on beds in the hospital where they were transported for treatment and have no food,” writes ECCS President Abraham Tuach Kier in an email to CWR Director Dave Husby. Kier visited victims at the hospital in Malakal on Sunday.
Most of the dead were defenseless women, children, and people with disabilities who tried to escape across a river but were shot or drowned, says Kier. Some were killed by crocodiles and hippopotamuses, he adds.
The victims of the February 9 attack were primarily returnees from North Sudan who had camped at the junction of two rivers and were far from government forces, says Kier. A government official called the scene a “massacre.”
South Sudan voted last month to secede from the north. The south’s government has accused the Khartoum-led government in the north of backing the attack. They have previously backed opposing militias in the south.
Athor was the leader of one of the military groups opposing the north, but revolted against the southern army when he lost an election for governor of Jonglei, the largest of the south’s 10 states. Athor alleged he lost due to widespread vote fraud.