JUBA, South Sudan, March 13 (UPI) -- The latest round of cattle rustling in South Sudan has killed more than 200 people, officials said.
Jonglei state Gov. Kuol Manyang said officials have confirmed at least 223 people have died in the cattle raids and hundreds more were either wounded or believed missing, the BBC reported Tuesday.
After a series of deadly raids since the start of 2012, President Salva Kiir initiated a program Monday that would disarm civilians across Jonglei. The state governor told the British broadcaster the disarmament initiative could take a year.
About 12,000 soldiers and police were deployed to gather an estimated 30,000 weapons from Jonglei civilians.
Cattle raids and subsequent acts of revenge have killed or wounded thousands of people in South Sudan since the country gained its independence last year.
The fighting involved Murle and Lou Nuer ethnic groups in Jonglei and Upper Nile states. Thousands of cattle, a source of wealth and pride for many South Sudanese communities, reportedly have been stolen in raids.
In January, hundreds of Murle members were killed in Jonglei by a fighting force of about 6,000 primarily Lou Nuer fighters.
The United Nations said about 350,000 people were displaced because of violence in South Sudan last year.