News / Africa

UN: Rebels Massacred ‘Hundreds’ of Civilians in South Sudan

South Sudanese fleeing an attack on the South Sudanese town of Rank, wait with their belongings after arriving at a border gate in Joda, along the Sudanese border, April 19, 2014.
South Sudanese fleeing an attack on the South Sudanese town of Rank, wait with their belongings after arriving at a border gate in Joda, along the Sudanese border, April 19, 2014.
Margaret Besheer
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan says rebels killed “hundreds” of civilians in ethnically-motivated attacks when they captured the town of Bentiu last week.  

The U.N. strongly condemned what it called targeted killings of civilians which took place along national and ethnic lines.

In a statement, the U.N. mission, known as UNMISS, said more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded in the Bentiu's mosque, where they had gone to flee the violence.

It said fighters with the rebel force, known as the SPLA in Opposition, separated individuals based on their ethnicities and nationalities, safely escorting some out of the mosque and killing others.

Similar attacks were reported at a Catholic church, an evacuated World Food Program compound and Bentiu hospital.  Sudanese of Darfuri ethnicity were also targeted.

The U.N. also condemned the use of the local radio station by rebels to incite killings and rape.

U.N. Peacekeeping Spokesman Nick Birnback told VOA that UNMISS has deployed additional peacekeepers from its 8,000-plus strong force to Bentiu and other locations where attacks have been reported.  

“But the truth of the matter is, is we can’t be everywhere at all times," Birnback said. "Also, our peacekeepers are focusing on protection of civilian sites, where we are sheltering thousands and thousands of terrified IDPs [internally displaced persons] who are fleeing the violence and who are depending on us for their security.”

Last week, peacekeepers helped get hundreds of civilians in threatened areas in Bentiu and Rubknona to their base for protection.  The base is now refuge for more than 20,000 people.

The U.N.’s Birnback said there is “a vicious cycle” of attack and counter-attack happening.

“Civilians are, as always, are bearing the brunt of it," Birnback said. "We are doing everything we can to work with local authorities to try to not only investigate, but deter.  But ultimately, it is the authorities in South Sudan who are going to have to take action to stop these terrible events from continuing to occur.”

Fighting erupted in South Sudan in December, as the army of President Salva Kiir and rebels allied with his former vice president Riek Machar began fighting each other.  Violence has now displaced more than one million South Sudanese from their homes.

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Comment Sorting
by: George from: Juba
April 22, 2014 6:36 AM
For my Opinion. The World really forgot to look very carefully inside South Sudan tribes. This new nation has the historical tribe conflict some 100 years ago,the Great Britain knew very well and they keep silence. This killing now in juba,joungli. Malakal.bantiu,and another's county. Let us talk the fact this two tribes mr N and mr D are people who going to distroy this nation. Out from 64 tribes only this two tribes becomes adiassater in the whole country If u as any one from this two community why fouth with Arab,iam sure no one will tell u the answer. What happen in Bantu is buness war u buy any people from everywhere to come fight at the of the day u pay them. This is what taking place in southsudan

by: wenyin from: canada
April 21, 2014 7:52 PM
The United Nation will regret their failiour to stop this provication by few Nuer, this may take a wrong turn into an all out cleansing and the world should notice the vivid restrain by the people of South Sudan towords UNMISS until now. What a joke "800 strong," ? Stop fleecing Southern Sudanese victims and know that every actor on this conflict will be held accountable at the end. Does the U.N ( Arabs World) really know what they are doing ? There is a move, that can't be stopped by arms or anything and a plan to transition the government of South Sudan into a RED! The foundation has been laid already during the gurella struggle and the leaderships were trained in Cuba. The current war is but a tip of an iceberg ( The bigger intentions). Though Riek Machar's protest was logical and marred with attrocities, the leadership left him uninformed about the big price ( Turning the Nation into China like ruling Communist Party). Riek sensed that move but was unsure about the whole government's move ( Kiir is just a small boy to the shado leadership of South Sudan; that is why he began throwing accusations at Kiir's leadership. There is nothing wrong about adapting to any political model but don't leave others who may disgree uninformed. Some crazy stuff going on in Africa and the democratic nations are bussy in their amusements. There is still some things yet to be salvaged.

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