(Updates figure in paragraph 9 to 6,000 from 6,000-8,000)
NAIROBI (AlertNet) - An estimated 60,000 people have been displaced in South Sudan’s Jonglei state since late December, when some 6,000 to 8,000 armed members of the Lou Nuer tribe carried out a series of attacks on members of the rival Murle community. There have since been fatal revenge attacks by Murle members.
Following are key dates and background on factors affecting the conflict.
Key facts and figures:
* South Sudan, born in July after a referendum agreed under a 2005 peace deal with Sudan ended decades of civil war, is a poor country awash with weapons and where security is fragile.
* The recent attacks are the latest in a series of conflicts between the Lou Nuer and Murle cattle-herding communities over water and grazing land. Cattle have been raided and women and children abducted during conflict between the communities.
* The Murle are a minority group, marginalised politically and in terms of development. The Lou Nuer are a subgroup of the Nuer, the ethnic group of Vice President Riek Machar, and have thousands of men in the army.
* The U.N. says 60,000 people have been displaced by recent tensions.
* Pibor County Commissioner said over 3,000 people had been killed and 1,790 women and children abducted, as well as 89,000 cattle stolen. The government has since denied these figures.
* U.N. human rights monitors assessing the situation.
Timeline of recent attacks:
Dec. 23: Some 6,000 to 8,000 armed members from the Lou Nuer tribe began marching through a series of Murle villages in Pibor County, burning homes and seizing cattle. This was in retaliation for earlier attacks allegedly perpetrated by members of the Murle tribe.
Dec. 26 and 27: The village of Likuangole was razed, with houses burnt to the ground. A clinic of medical charity Medecins Sans Frontieres was looted and destroyed. All boreholes were destroyed.
Dec. 31: Lou Nuer members reached the periphery of Pibor town, (population of 40,000), looting and burning huts as well as two aid agency compounds.
Jan. 4: The attackers began to return north towards Akobo County and people who had fled into the bush started to return to Pibor.
Jan. 5: U.N. flights delivering emergency aid into Pibor resumed.
Jan. 8: 24 people were killed in Akobo County, to the north of Pibor County, in a revenge attack by the Murle.
Jan. 10: 8 people were killed in Padoi village in Akobo County in a revenge attack by the Murle.
Jan. 11: At least 57 people killed in fighting when armed Murle fighters attacked three Lou Nuer villages in Uror country in northern Jonglei state, said a government spokesman. Spokesman said the attackers also wounded 53 people and stolen cattle, and that the government was sending army and police reinforcements to the area.
Other 2010 attacks:
* In April, Lou Nuer members attacked Murle members in Pibor county, killing over 200 people.
* In June, Lou Nuer members attacked Murle members in Pibor county, killing over 400 people.
* In August, Murle members attacked Lou Nuer members in Uror county, killing over 700 people.
(Sources: Reuters, UNOCHA, AlertNet, Sudan Tribune, Minority Rights Group)