UNITED NATIONS — The United Nations says about 200 armed men attacked one of its convoys in South Sudan, killing five peacekeepers and seven civilians. At least nine other people were injured, some seriously.
The United Nations says the five peacekeepers, who were all Indian nationals, were killed trying to protect the convoy of about 18 civilians, when they were ambushed in the eastern state of Jonglei and an intense firefight ensued.
U.N. peacekeeping spokesman Kieran Dwyer said about 30 peacekeepers were escorting the convoy which was traveling on the main road to Pibor, moving from Gurumuk to Bor.
“It is clear it was a deliberate attack against the United Nations; there were no other organizations with them," he said.
Inter-communal violence has been on the rise in Jonglei, especially between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities, who raid each other’s cattle herds.
While the United Nations says it is too soon to know who conducted the attack, South Sudan’s army spokesman Philip Aguer blamed it on insurgents led by David Yau Yau, a rebel leader fighting government forces in the area.
U.N. spokesman Dwyer said the mission in South Sudan, which has about 6,500 troops, would have to be careful about future movements while the incident is investigated.
“We are going to have to reassess the safety procedures for any movements at all, while we try to determine exactly who attacked us, why, and work with the government in South Sudan to make sure this does not happen again," he said.
The U.N. secretary-general, Ban-Ki-moon, said through a spokesman that he is “appalled” by the attack and noted that the killing of peacekeepers is a war crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
The Security Council also condemned the attack urging the government of South Sudan to swiftly investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.