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Ethiopian troops penetrate South Sudan to rescue 125 kids

Published:Friday | April 22, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Ethiopian troops were operating in South Sudan yesterday after crossing the border to rescue some 125 Ethiopian children who were kidnapped during a bloody cattle raid, and top officials from both countries sought to coordinate their efforts.

Peter Bashir Gbandi, acting South Sudanese foreign affairs minister, said South Sudan Chief of Staff Paul Malong would go to Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, today to coordinate. Bashir told The Associated Press that South Sudan does not want Ethiopian troops to go deeper into South Sudan. He said the South Sudanese army has no forces in the area but has put troops on standby.

He would not answer directly if South Sudan gave permission to Ethiopia to enter but insisted, "we are in touch." He said he did know who was responsible for the attack in Ethiopia and added that the area "is full of jungle. These are criminals". Officials in both countries said there was no tension between the neighbouring states.

South Sudanese local leaders, meanwhile, traded accusations over who was responsible. Ethiopia's government said the April 15 raid in its Gambela region resulted in the death of 208 people. Ethiopia announced on Wednesday that its military entered South Sudan and surrounded the attackers, believed to be Murle tribesmen who abducted 125 children. Local media in Ethiopia reported that the Murle wanted the children to raise the 2,000 head of cattle the tribal members stole.

South Sudan's Ambassador to Ethiopia, Akuei Bona Malwal told AP that Ethiopia and South Sudan are coordinating their actions to solve the crisis, but declined to give details about "joint tasks" which, he said, the two countries are currently carrying out.