The death toll in South Sudan’s Warrap State has risen to 148 following fighting this past weekend during a disarmament exercise, a local government official said on Friday, and the U.N. has deployed forces to maintain calm in the region.
Heavy clashes erupted over a two-day period between armed civilians and government forces carrying out a disarmament project, after some armed youths in the Greater Tonj area started engaging the security forces.
It is still unclear what set off the clashes.
Tonj East County Executive Director Makuei Mabior Dhuol told Reuters that the death toll jumped due to some of the injured not receiving immediate medical treatment after the fighting.
“According to the latest report, we have collected 148 people killed from both sides,” Mabior said. “85 were civilians and the other 63 were government soldiers.”
A further 141 were injured, Mabior added.
The United Nations Peace Mission in South Sudan peacekeeping’s patrol arrived in Tonj on Tuesday and has set up a temporary operating base to help deter further violence, spokesperson Francesca Mold told Reuters.
“The patrol reported that the situation is calm although tensions remain high,” Mold said.
The national government, formed this year after a deal to end a conflict that broke out in 2013, launched a disarmament exercise in Tonj county last month, saying that armed militias in the area were driving inter-communal violence.