News / Africa

    UN Condemns Attack on South Sudan Base as 'War Crime'

    Civilians crush up against the gates of the UNMISS compound in Bor, Jonglei state, days after South Sudan erupted in violence in December 2013.
    Civilians crush up against the gates of the UNMISS compound in Bor, Jonglei state, days after South Sudan erupted in violence in December 2013.
    Mugume Davis Rwakaringi
    U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Thursday that an attack on a United Nations compound in South Sudan, where nearly 5,000 South Sudanese have been sheltering since the country plunged into violence in December, was a war crime. 

    "Any attack on United Nations Peacekeepers is unacceptable and constitutes a war crime," Ban said in a statement released hours after the attack.

    Ban also called the attack a "serious escalation" of the four-month-old crisis in South Sudan.
     
    The U.N. Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement that an armed mob forced entry to the U.N. compound in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, and "opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base."

    UNMISS said two U.N. peacekeepers were wounded in he attack, and an unconfirmed number of civilians were killed or wounded by the "assailants who came under the guise of peaceful demonstrators intending to present a petition to UNMISS."

    The U.N. will make public the exact casualty figures once it has determined what they are, the statement said.
     
    Bior Kuer, a health worker at Bor Hospital, said at least two people were killed in the fighting at the compound and 14 others were treated at the hospital in town for wounds sustained during the violence. UNMISS said others were treated at the medical clinic inside the compound.

    William Oyual, a health worker who lives inside the UNMISS compound, said scores of internally displaced persons (IDPs) sheltering at the U.N. facility were killed in the fighting.

    “Those who are dead are 61 and the wounded are 273," said Oyual, who has been helping to treat the wounded. 


    Oyual said the large group that stormed the  base were reportedly angered at hearing that displaced people inside the compound were celebrating the news that Bentiu, in Unity state, was recaptured by rebels at the start of the week.


    The assailants "started shooting UNMISS" when the U.N. peacekeepers refused them entry to the compound, Oyual said.

    "UNMISS has no mandate to shoot them, so UNMISS ran down to their protection area" and the attackers followed, shooting indiscriminately at people, Oyual said.

    Women and children were among the victims, he said.
    Children play with a suitcase in a IDP camp for the Nuer ethnic group inside the UNMISS compound in Bor, South Sudan, on February 27, 2014.Children play with a suitcase in a IDP camp for the Nuer ethnic group inside the UNMISS compound in Bor, South Sudan, on February 27, 2014.
    x
    Children play with a suitcase in a IDP camp for the Nuer ethnic group inside the UNMISS compound in Bor, South Sudan, on February 27, 2014.
    Children play with a suitcase in a IDP camp for the Nuer ethnic group inside the UNMISS compound in Bor, South Sudan, on February 27, 2014.


    In its statement, UNMISS confirmed that the attackers "opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base."

    Ayuen Deng Ror, one of the organizers of the protest outside the UNMISS compound, said the first shots were fired by people inside the camp, although he could not tell if U.N. peacekeepers were responsible or if displaced people opened fire.

    UNMISS said peacekeepers tried unsuccessfully to stop the attack by firing warning shots and also "returned fire" after the assailants began firing on civilians in the camp.

    The U.N. has a strict policy banning civilians from carrying weapons into its compounds or bases. In January, a South Sudanese government minister was barred entry to the UNMISS compound in Bor because his bodyguards were armed.
     
    Ror said the demonstrators wanted UNMISS to expel the people who were celebrating the recapture of Bentiu by forces loyal to former vice president and opposition leader Riek Machar.

    Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) director of information Brigadier General Malak Ayuen condemned the "senseless violence" and deaths of South Sudanese during an interview broadcast on national television. The military spokesman called on "members of the civil population and UNMISS... not to take the law into their hands."


    UN frustrated by 'pointless violence'


    U.N. humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan Toby Lanzer said in a statement that he was "deeply saddened and frustrated by the violence that has ravaged Bentiu and Bor in the past 72 hours."
     
    "These events show, yet again, the pointlessness of the violence engulfing South Sudan," he said. "The current cycle of revenge will get the people of this country nowhere. It wrecks the present and casts a dark shadow over what should have been a very bright future."

    South Sudanese army spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer called the clashes in Bor “unfortunate” and said the military will launch an investigation to find out what happened.

    The fresh outbreaks of violence in Bentiu and Bor come nearly three months after the government and opposition signed a cessation of hostilities agreement at peace talks in Addis Ababa.  Violence has also been reported in Upper Nile state.

    The United States has warned that it will slap sanctions and travel bans on anyone who blocks South Sudan's slow-moving peace process or io. Humanitarian leaders from the European Union, the United Nations and United States have warned that South Sudan could face famine if the fighting does not stop soon.
     
    This story updates earlier versions, adding Ban Ki-moon's statement and the UNMISS statement. Philip Aleu contributed to this report from Juba and Karin Zeitvogel contributed from Washington, D.C.

    You May Like

    Former US Envoys Urge Obama to Delay Troop Cuts in Afghanistan

    Keeping troop levels up during conflict with both Taliban and Islamic State is necessary to support Kabul government, they say

    First Lady to Visit Africa to Promote Girls' Education

    Michele Obama will be joined by daughters and actresses Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto

    Video NYSE Analyst: Brexit Will Continue to Place Pressure on Markets

    Despite orderly pricing and execution strategy at the New York Stock Exchange, analyst explains added pressure on world financial markets is likely

    This forum has been closed.
    Comment Sorting
    Comments
         
    by: eusebio manuel vestias from: Portugal
    April 19, 2014 5:17 AM
    Peace sustainable and table-round of advances Human right of South Sudan

    by: Monika from: France
    April 18, 2014 7:54 PM
    you shouldn't be surprised... why are you surprised..??
    this is Islam..!!! - it is depravity of global reach... why are you surprised...?? I'll tell you what is surprising here... the UN reaction is surprising... the UN's affected ignorance is surprising... and alarming..!!!
    In Response

    by: James from: South Sudan
    April 19, 2014 4:22 AM
    Monika, check your facts. South Sundan's population is nearly 100% Christian.

    And, you're still wrong about Muslims being violent in general, so that's two errors in one post. Shameful ignorance.

    By the Numbers

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territoryi
    X
    June 24, 2016 9:38 PM
    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Brexit Vote Plunges Global Markets Into Uncharted Territory

    British voters plunged global markets into unknown territory after they voted Thursday to leave the European Union. The results of the Brexit vote, the term coined to describe the referendum, caught many off guard. Analysts say the resulting volatility could last for weeks, perhaps longer. Mil Arcega reports.
    Video

    Video Orlando Shooting Changes Debate on Gun Control

    It’s been nearly two weeks since the largest mass shooting ever in the United States. Despite public calls for tighter gun control laws, Congress is at an impasse. Democratic lawmakers resorted to a 1960s civil rights tactic to portray their frustration. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti explains how the Orlando, Florida shooting is changing the debate.
    Video

    Video Tunisian Fishing Town Searches for Jobs, Local Development Solutions

    As the European Union tries to come to grips with its migrant crisis, some newcomers are leaving voluntarily. But those returning to their home countries face an uncertain future.  Five years after Tunisia's revolution, the tiny North African country is struggling with unrest, soaring unemployment and plummeting growth. From the southern Tunisian fishing town of Zarzis, Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at a search for local solutions.
    Video

    Video 'American Troops' in Russia Despite Tensions

    Historic battle re-enactment is a niche hobby with a fair number of adherents in Russia where past military victories are played-up by the Kremlin as a show of national strength. But, one group of World War II re-enactors in Moscow has the rare distinction of choosing to play western ally troops. VOA's Daniel Schearf explains.
    Video

    Video Experts: Very Few Killed in US Gun Violence Are Victims of Mass Shootings

    The deadly shooting at a Florida nightclub has reignited the debate in the U.S. over gun control. Although Congress doesn't provide government health agencies funds to study gun violence, public health experts say private research has helped them learn some things about the issue. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
    Video

    Video Trump Unleashes Broadside Against Clinton to Try to Ease GOP Doubts

    Recent public opinion polls show Republican Donald Trump slipping behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in the presidential election matchup for November. Trump trails her both in fundraising and campaign organization, but he's intensifying his attacks on the former secretary of state. VOA National Correspondent Jim Malone reports.
    Video

    Video Muslim American Mayor Calls for Tolerance

    Syrian-born Mohamed Khairullah describes himself as "an American mayor who happens to be Muslim." As the three-term mayor of Prospect Park, New Jersey, he believes his town of 6,000 is an example of how ethnicity and religious beliefs should not determine a community's leadership. Ramon Taylor has this report from Prospect Park.
    Video

    Video Internal Rifts Over Syria Policy Could Be Headache for Next US President

    With the Obama administration showing little outward enthusiasm for adopting a more robust Syria policy, there is a strong likelihood that the internal discontent expressed by State Department employees will roll over to the next administration. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports.
    Video

    Video Senegal to Park Colorful ‘Cars Rapide’ Permanently

    Brightly painted cars rapide are a hallmark of Dakar, offering residents a cheap way to get around the capital city since 1976. But the privately owned minibuses are scheduled to be parked for good in late 2018, as Ricci Shryock reports for VOA.
    Video

    Video Florida Gets $1 Million in Emergency Government Funding for Orlando

    The U.S. government has granted $1 million in emergency funding to the state of Florida to cover the costs linked to the June 12 massacre in Orlando. U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch announced the grant Tuesday in Orlando, where she met with survivors of the shooting attack that killed 49 people. Zlatica Hoke reports.
    Video

    Video How to Print Impossible Shapes with Metal

    3-D printing with metals is rapidly becoming more advanced. As printers become more affordable, the industry is partnering with universities to refine processes for manufacturing previously impossible things. A new 3-D printing lab aims to bring the new technology closer to everyday use. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Big Somali Community in Minnesota Observes Muslim Religious Feast

    Ramadan is widely observed in the north central US state of Minnesota, which a large Muslim community calls home. VOA Somali service reporter Mohmud Masadde files this report from Minneapolis, the state's biggest city.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora