JUBA - Officials in South Sudan said Monday seven people were wounded at the U.N. House camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Juba when government soldiers alledgedly opened fire outside the camp over the weekend.
A United Nations spokesman has confirmed there was a shooting, but a military official said he has no knowledge of such an incident.
Martin Kueth Gach, a leader of the 35,000 IDPs at the camp where the shooting occurred, said eye witnesses told him the assailants arrived in a vehicle, parked near the entrance of the camp and opened fire. He said around five people who were in the market just outside the camp were wounded, along with two others inside the camp.
"Those five people were shot when they were running to the gate to enter into the camp. And the bullets came in and injured two people inside,” he said.
Kueth said the IDPs told him it was easy to identify the attackers as government soldiers because they were in uniform and came up to the entrance gate of the camp.
"There were no other people wearing uniforms outside... only the government forces,” he said.
United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) spokesman Joe Contreras said four of the wounded are in serious condition. He said peacekeepers were rapidly dispatched to the scene of the shootings, but "found no armed groups."
Kueth said the attackers drove away when Ethiopian peacekeepers arrived.
He said two women were among the wounded but did not specify the extent of their injuries. He said two critically injured civilians are being treated at a medical facility inside the camp.
SPLA spokesman Col. Philip Aguer said he had no reports of an incident at U.N. House.
Contreras noted that U.N. peacekeepers can only protect IDPs inside a U.N. camp. "Once you move outside UNMISS facilities, those responsible for the security of the people are the government of South Sudan," he said.
The alleged attack is not the first time U.N. camps for the displaced have been attacked.
In March, suspected SPLA soldiers shot into the U.N. House camp in Juba, wounding scores of IDPs. And in April last year, UN officials said at least 40 people were killed when a large group of armed civilians stormed the U.N. compound in Bor and began firing indiscriminately at people who were sheltering inside.