The Ethiopian military has located more than 100 children believed to have been abducted by South Sudanese gunmen last week, local media reported on Wednesday, and is in the process of carrying out a large-scale cross-border operation to retrieve them.

A government minister told AFP on Wednesday that troops had crossed into South Sudan to search for the children, who were taken during an attack in the border region of Gambela during which 208 people died and 2,000 cattle were also taken. Ethiopian authorities said members of the South Sudanese Murle tribe were responsible.

Defense forces have surrounded the areas of Jior and Kok, reported the Fana Broadcasting Corporation (FBC). A government official told FBC the children would be rescued and reunited with their families. On Thursday a South Sudanese government official told FBC the country’s military was coordinating with Ethiopian counterparts to help track down the gunmen.

Also on Thursday, residents of Gambela state held a peaceful demonstration condemning the killing of innocent civilians and demanding the government intensify its efforts to rescue the kidnapped children.

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