U.N. Reports Hundreds Killed In Ethnic Violence In South Sudan

April 21, 2014

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan says that “targeted killings of civilians” based on ethnicity were carried out in the war-torn country after rebels last week seized the city of Bentiu.

In a statement on Monday, UNMISS said its human rights investigators had confirmed the killings occurred April 15 and 16 after rebels of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army took control of the oil hub.

UNMISS reports that on April 15, several Nuer men, women and children were killed for refusing to cheer on SPLA rebels as they entered the town. The killings continued the next day, and ethnic Darfuris were also among those targeted, it said. At a single mosque, more than 200 civilians were killed and some 400 wounded, according to the statement. In addition, it said, rebels rounded up individuals, based on their ethnicity, who were sheltering in a Catholic Church.

“These atrocities must be fully investigated and the perpetrators and their commanders shall be held accountable,” UNMISS chief Raisedon Zenenga said.

The statement also said that some individuals “associated with the opposition” had broadcast radio messages calling on “men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community.”

The Associated Press reports:

“Toby Lanzer, the U.N.’s top humanitarian official in South Sudan, said in Twitter posts late Sunday that there were shocking scenes of atrocities, with “bodies of people executed” lying in the streets of Bentiu.

“Thousands of people have been killed in violence since December, when presidential guards splintered and fought along ethnic lines. The violence later spread across the country as soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir tried to put down a rebellion led by Riek Machar, the former vice president.

“The U.N. has been warning of mounting evidence of ethnically-targeted killings in the world’s newest nation as both government troops and rebel forces lose and gain territories in sporadic clashes. Despite a ceasefire signed earlier this year, both sides continue to trade allegations over rights violations and civilian abuses.”

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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