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S. Sudanese soldiers injured, killed in rebel attack

ROUGH CUT - NO REPORTER NARRATION South Sudanese government troops recovered in a military hospital ward in Juba on Friday (August 31) after an attack by rebels killed at least 24 of their number, leaving another 73 missing, believed to be dead, and many injured, according to a regional governor. An attack by rebels in the area left many soldiers bed-bound, with gunfire lodging a bullet in the nasal cavity of one soldier, x-rays showed. Jonglei Governer Kuol Manyang said there was no doubt over who was responsible for latest outbreak of violence in restive Jonglei state. "They are sharp-shooters the Murle and so they inflicted casualties on the SPLA (Sudan People's Liberation Army), about 24 killed and 73 were reported missing. They have not appeared up to now so they are believed to have been killed. These were forces just on the move so they did not prepare their defences," he said. South Sudan seceded from Sudan under a year ago and is awash with weapons after a decades-long civil war with Khartoum that killed an estimated two million people. The government, run mostly by former guerrilla fighters, has struggled to assert control over its vast and restive territories since declaring independence. Manyang said a group led by rebel leader David Yau Yau -- one of several militias fighting the government -- attacked the convoy of 200 soldiers near Pibor on Wednesday (August 29), a remote corner of the eastern state of Jonglei. The troops had been sent to investigate reports that Yau Yau had been sighted in the area. South Sudan launched a disarmament campaign in Jonglei -- the country's biggest state -- in response to inter-communal violence which began before independence and has killed thousands. Nearly 900 people died when about 7,000 armed youth of the Lou Nuer tribe attacked Murle villages in the Pibor area at the end of last year, according to the United Nations. Last week Human Rights Watch issued a report saying soldiers had raped, beaten and killed civilians during the disarmament campaign, allegations denied by the government. South Sudan voted overwhelmingly for independence from Sudan in a 2011 referendum promised under a 2005 peace deal that ended the civil war. The two countries are still negotiating issues including border security and disputed territories, and the two armies have clashed in border states since secession.

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