Open

Coming up

Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

THE INTERVIEW

Simon Serfaty, US foreign policy specialist

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'It's a War, Stupid!'

Read more

BUSINESS DAILY

French PM calls on ECB to go further to help economy

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'I love the Socialists'

Read more

WEB NEWS

Ukraine: Web users call for international assistance

Read more

WEB NEWS

France: Fighting political corruption with transparency

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

No strategy and a beige suit

Read more

AFRICA NEWS

South Africa: Four men found guilty of shooting Rwandan exile

Read more

THE WORLD THIS WEEK

The World This Week - August 29th, 2014

Read more

  • Ukrainian forces retreat from Luhansk airport after clashes

    Read more

  • Iraqi forces free Armeli in biggest victory over IS militants since June

    Read more

  • Teddy Riner, France’s unstoppable judo champion

    Read more

  • Anti-government protesters storm Pakistan's state TV

    Read more

  • Putin calls for talks on 'statehood' for east Ukraine

    Read more

  • Poland marks 75 years since German invasion of WWII

    Read more

  • Israel appropriates large tracts of West Bank land

    Read more

  • Rescue efforts under way after French apartment block blast

    Read more

  • Web doc on French self-immolation protests takes top prize

    Read more

  • PSG trounce Saint-Etienne 5-0 with Ibrahimovic hat trick

    Read more

  • Tension rises in Hong Kong as Beijing rejects open elections

    Read more

  • French police stop 'teenage jihadist' from flying to Syria

    Read more

  • Kidnapped Yazidi women 'sold to Islamists' in Syria

    Read more

  • Confusion reigns after Lesotho 'coup'

    Read more

  • French PM vows to safeguard 35-hour work week

    Read more

  • Inside Novoazovsk – the pro-Russians' latest conquest

    Read more

Africa

S. Sudan rebels massacre hundreds in key town, says UN

© AFP

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-04-22

Rebel gunmen in South Sudan massacred hundreds of civilians because of their ethnicity when they captured the key oil town of Bentiu last week, the UN said on Monday. It is one of the worst reported atrocities in the war-torn nation.

In the main mosque alone, “More than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded,” the UN mission in the country said. “They (the rebels) searched a number of places where hundreds of South Sudanese and foreign civilians had taken refuge, and killed hundreds of the civilians after determining their ethnicity or nationality.”

Children were among the civilians slaughtered at a church, a hospital and an abandoned UN World Food Programme (WFP) compound, it said.

Fighters said on the radio that rival groups should be forced from the town of Bentiu and urged men to rape women from the opposition ethnic group.

Thousands of people have been killed in the northeast African nation since December, when presidential guards splintered along ethnic lines. The violence later spread across the country as soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir tried to put down a rebellion led by former vice president Riek Machar.

Oil fieds targetted

Machar launched a renewed offensive this month targeting key oil fields. The conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, pitting Kiir’s Dinka tribe against militia forces from Machar’s Nuer people.

UN human rights investigators said that after rebels wrested Bentiu from government forces in heavy battles last Tuesday, the gunmen spent two days hunting down those they believed opposed them.

The rebels have since denied responsibility for the massacres.

“Driving from the airstrip into [Bentiu], we saw dead bodies lying on the side of the road. They were people who had been killed four, five days earlier when the city changed hands,” Amanda Weyler, who works for the UN office for coordination, told FRANCE 24 over the phone.

“Then, as we drove farther into town, we reached the market and we saw a large number of bodies decomposing – groups of people who, by all evidence, looked like civilians. It looked like they had been executed,” she said.

Both South Sudanese and Sudanese—some from the war-torn Darfur region—were killed in the violence, the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a statement.

Hate radio urged rape

Some rebels took to the local radio to “broadcast hate messages declaring that certain ethnic groups should not stay in Bentiu, and even calling on men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community”, the statement added.

Shortly after the town’s capture, rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang praised the “gallant forces” for having completed “mopping- and cleaning-up operations in and around Bentiu”.

Peacekeepers later rescued over 500 civilians, many of them wounded, from the hospital and other sites, as well as guarding thousands of civilians who continued to stream towards the UN base, where an estimated 25,000 people are now crammed in for shelter.

The capture of Bentiu came two days before gunmen stormed a UN compound in which at least 58 people were killed, with peacekeepers fighting back to protect over 5,000 civilians sheltering within. The UN Security Council said that attack might constitute a war crime.

The surge in fighting in the four-month-long conflict comes amid warnings by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon that more than one million people are at risk of famine. A ceasefire deal is in tatters, while peace talks in Ethiopia have made little progress.

The conflict in South Sudan, which only won independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s youngest nation, has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes. The fighting has been marked by reports and allegations of atrocities by both sides, with ethnic massacres, child soldier recruitment and hospital patients raped and murdered.

The United States, the key backer of South Sudan’s move to independence, has threatened targeted sanctions against those responsible for the violence.

(FRANCE 24 with AFP, AP)

Date created : 2014-04-21

  • SOUTH SUDAN

    Scores killed in South Sudan cattle raid

    Read more

  • South Sudan

    Mob launches deadly attack on UN shelter for S. Sudan civilians

    Read more

  • SOUTH SUDAN

    More than one million have fled S. Sudan conflict, UN says

    Read more

COMMENT(S)