News / Africa

UN: Women, Children Targeted in South Sudan Attack

Bor, South Sudan
Bor, South Sudan
Gabe Joselow
A United Nations official in South Sudan says at least 40 people were killed in an attack on civilians sheltering at a U.N. base in Jonglei state. The government has blamed U.N. peacekeepers for the violence.

The U.N. peacekeeping force, known as UNMISS, says an armed mob forced its way into the compound in Bor Thursday and opened fire at civilians taking refuge inside.

UNMISS says peacekeepers returned fire, repelling the attackers.

The head of office for the U.N. Humanitarian agency in South Sudan, Vincent Lelei, told VOA the mob was apparently demonstrating against the U.N. at the gates of the compound, before it turned violent.

Lelei said demonstrators used “powerful military equipment” to force their way in.

“Shooting started directly into unarmed civilians, mainly women and children who had taken shelter in there,” he said.

At a news conference Friday, South Sudan's information minister Michael Makuei Lueth claimed it was the U.N. who fired at the demonstrators first.

“Before they could arrive, the UNMISS force shot at them and as a result it provoked a situation that resulted in that unfortunate incident,” he said.
FILE - Civilians who fled recent fighting stack their belongings up outside the gate of the United Nations Mission compound in South Sudan (UNMISS), hoping to benefit from their protection, Unity State, South Sudan, Jan 12, 2014.FILE - Civilians who fled recent fighting stack their belongings up outside the gate of the United Nations Mission compound in South Sudan (UNMISS), hoping to benefit from their protection, Unity State, South Sudan, Jan 12, 2014.
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FILE - Civilians who fled recent fighting stack their belongings up outside the gate of the United Nations Mission compound in South Sudan (UNMISS), hoping to benefit from their protection, Unity State, South Sudan, Jan 12, 2014.
FILE - Civilians who fled recent fighting stack their belongings up outside the gate of the United Nations Mission compound in South Sudan (UNMISS), hoping to benefit from their protection, Unity State, South Sudan, Jan 12, 2014.
Tens of thousands of South Sudanese have sought shelter at U.N. bases across the country since violence broke out in December, following a political rift between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

In the latest fighting, opposition forces this week took over the town of Bentiu, capital of oil-producing Unity State. The government says the military soon will retake control.

Lelei says more than 6,000 civilians have fled to a U.N. base in Bentiu in recent days, bringing the total number of people taking shelter at the base up to 14,000.

“The fear factor is driving people out of their homes into very very difficult sheltering conditions in the U.N. base," he said.

The U.S. State Department Thursday issued a statement condemning the recent violence, and has called on all sides involved in the conflict to adhere to a cessation of hostilities agreement signed in January. That agreement has been repeatedly violated, while peace talks in the Ethiopian capital have stalled.

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by: Patrick
April 20, 2014 8:03 AM
Whilst the UN speaks out on atrocities, where were they on Gukhurahundi in Zimbabwe? where 20,000 people died. So much insincerity and lack of empathy. Inkosi sikelele Zimbabwe.

by: Anonymous
April 19, 2014 2:41 AM
UN should not always terrorise the citizens of S.Sudan while it function is to keep peace and bring un unite party on Co-operation. It was backing Salva Kiir's fmr Deputy president sources giving arms to Riak Machar's forces twice.

by: Ismail from: Nairobi
April 18, 2014 4:57 PM
If the US warning to South Sudan with the purpose of making them reform, with all due respect, i think it will not work; simply because culturally South Sudanese don't take seriousily those that first make warnings. However, we culturally respect those that act first and then leave others pick the warning themselves from the action taken.

The UN compound attack in Jongly, Bor is on 4-17-2014 is a very good example, where the UN protection force was reported to have fired warning shots to scare away armed South Sudanese.! The result of the said warning shots is so far 60 confirmed dead innocent lives unffortunatly. This majorly due to lack of CULTURAL AWARENESS by UN protection force.

I fear the same to happen to the US threat of sanctions.

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