UN Reveals 353 Killed in South Sudan Attacks - News Hunter Magazine

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Saturday, 10 January 2015

UN Reveals 353 Killed in South Sudan Attacks

NAIROBI—

The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has released new
details of the killing of hundreds of people in two separate incidents
in April. U.N. investigators determined civilians were deliberately
targeted by ethnicity in the towns of Bentiu and Bor in some of the
worst violence since the South Sudan conflict began over a year ago.

A new report from the U.N. mission determined at least 353 civilians
were killed in the two attacks blamed separately on rebel opposition
forces and mobs loyal to the government.

In the first incident, investigators say hundreds of civilians were
killed when rebel soldiers overran the town of Bentiu in Unity State.

The report says soldiers shot and killed civilians hiding in a mosque
to escape the fighting. Investigators said some shooters may have
pointed their guns through the windows of the building to hit those
huddled inside.

Two days later, in apparent retaliation for the Bentiu attack, a mob
armed mostly with sticks, machetes and iron bars stormed a U.N. base
in the town of Bor, in Jonglei State, killing at least 47 displaced
people who had taken refuge there.

UNMISS spokesman Joe Contreras said assailants in both incidents
deliberately targeted their victims along the same ethnic lines that
have defined the conflict.

"Victims were deliberately targeted on the basis of their ethnicity,
nationality or perceived support for one of the parties in the
conflict and nearly nine months after the attacks took place, no
perpetrator has yet to be held accountable," Contreras said.

The attack in Bentiu was perpetrated by members of the opposition
movement loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer,
who organized rebel forces after a fallout with President Salva Kiir -
a Dinka.

The report says most of the victims in Bentiu were from the Darfur
region of neighboring Sudan, and were seen to be loyal to Mr. Kiir's
government.

At the U.N. base in Bor, mostly Dinka mobs attacked Nuer civilians,
singling them out by their tribal facial scars -- six distinct lines
that stretch from ear to ear.

The incidents represent two of the bloodiest events in the ongoing
conflict which has claimed thousands of lives and displaced more than
one million people.

While Bor is mostly calm these days, Bentiu is still experiencing
bouts of violence. This week, government and rebel forces blamed each
other for fighting near the state's oil fields.

The U.N. base in Bentiu currently hosts more than 40,000 civilians who
have fled violence, and Contreras says displaced people continue to
come.

"The security situation, at least in (displaced people's) judgment is
sufficiently precarious as to warrant them staying on our premises and
also continues to drive people in our direction," Contreras said.

Both sides in the conflict have repeatedly denied responsibility for
attacks on civilians.

Negotiators continue to maintain their commitment to ongoing peace
talks in Ethiopia, though numerous cease-fire deals signed since last
January have all fallen through.



Credit: VOA News

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