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South Sudan Troops Suffocated 60 Men, Boys, Amnesty Reports

  • VOA News

South Sudan army soldiers walk to a military helicopter at Juba international airport, before heading to Bor, Dec. 25, 2013. Amnesty International has accused South Sudan military forces of suffocating 60 men and boys in a container in 2015.

South Sudan army soldiers walk to a military helicopter at Juba international airport, before heading to Bor, Dec. 25, 2013. Amnesty International has accused South Sudan military forces of suffocating 60 men and boys in a container in 2015.

The global human rights watchdog Amnesty International has accused South Sudan military forces of suffocating 60 men and boys in a shipping container.

In a report released Thursday, the London-based organization called for the perpetrators to be prosecuted.

Amnesty International says that in October 2015, government soldiers rounded up more than 60 men and boys in Leer, a town in the northern Unity state, and locked them in a shipping container on the grounds of a Catholic church.

The report is based on nearly two dozen eyewitnesses who saw the victims forced into the container with their hands tied.

"Witnesses described hearing the detainees crying and screaming in distress and banging on the walls of the shipping container, which they said had no windows or other form of ventilation," the report said.

They said soldiers opened the container to remove the bodies of some of the men who'd suffocated, but then locked the doors again with the rest of the people inside. After 24 hours, all but one of the detainees were dead.

Temperatures in Unity state regularly top 40 degrees Celsius.

The victims were "not fighters" said Amnesty, but were "cattle keepers, traders and students," according to relatives.

The government has denied the killings, but Amnesty reports that the witnesses said "civilian and military officials had direct knowledge that the detainees were in distress and dying but did nothing to help them."

This massacre is being blamed on government forces, but reports from the African Union, Human Rights Watch and others say both sides in this civil war have committed crimes against humanity.

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