Home | News    Tuesday 22 April 2014

Over 200 civilians massacred in Unity state’s targeted killings, says UN


April 21, 2014 (JUBA) - The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Monday that more than 200 people died in Bentiu after the strategic Unity state town fell to opposition forces last week.

SPLA soldiers get off of a pick-up truck in Bentiu, Unity state January 12, 2014. (Photo Reuters/Andreea Campeanu)

UNMISS, in a statement, said it "strongly condemns the targeted killings of civilians based on their ethnic origins and nationality in Bentiu."

"More than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded at the Mosque," the world body said in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune on Monday.

"UNMISS also strongly condemns the use of Radio Bentiu FM by some individuals associated with the opposition to broadcast hate speech," it added.

Fighting erupted in mid-December between soldiers aligned with former vice president Riek Machar and President Salva Kiir with the president accusing his ex-deputy of staging a coup, which Machar denied but now leads a rebel movement.

The fighting is often seen as pinning President Kiir’s Dinka tribe against Machar’s Nuer, although both politicians have supporters across irrespective of tribal affiliation.

Most army defectors accused government of President Kiir of allegedly using his Dinka armed men to kill Nuer civilians at the onset of conflict in the capital, Juba.

Both sides have been accused by Human Rights Watch of committing atrocities.

Bentiu has changed hands several times between rebel and pro-government forces.

But the UN, in it statement, accused the SPLA in Opposition of allegedly sorting civilians along tribal lines after capturing Bentiu.

"SPLA in Opposition soldiers similarly asked civilians who had taken refuge there to identify their ethnic origins and nationalities and proceeded to target and kill several individuals," the statement said.

The UN mission also said its investigators confirmed that when SPLA in Opposition forces captured Bentiu on 15 and 16 April, they 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.

"These atrocities must be fully investigated and the perpetrators and their commanders shall be held accountable", said Raisedon Zenenga, a UNMISS official.

He further reminded the parties of their respective obligations to protect civilians and called on them to immediately stop the targeting of innocent, unarmed civilians, and to respect the cessation of hostilities agreement they signed in January.

"At Bentiu Hospital, on 15 April, several Nuer men, women and children were killed for hiding and declining to join other Nuers who had gone out to cheer the SPLA in Opposition forces as they entered the town. Individuals from other South Sudanese communities, as well as Darfuris, were specifically targeted and killed at the hospital," the statement noted.

"On the same! day, the SPLA in Opposition forces entered the Kali-Ballee Mosque where civilians had taken shelter, separated individuals of certain nationalities and ethnic groups and escorted them to safety, while the others were killed," it added.

More than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded at the Mosque.

"At the Catholic church and at the vacated WFP [World Food Programme] compound, SPLA in Opposition soldiers similarly asked civilians who had taken refuge there to identify their ethnic origins and nationalities and proceeded to target and kill several individuals," further stated the UN statement.

Hussein Nyuot, a spokesperson for the rebel delegation at the Addis Ababa talks, however, told Sudan Tribune in an interview that the UN statement as "untrue".


Meanwhile, a group of exiled Nuer youth on Monday condemned mass killing of displaced civilians sheltered at the UN camp in Bor, the Jonglei state capital.

Nuer Youth Union (NYU), in a statement extended to Sudan Tribune, demanded that South Sudan government be held responsible for the killings at the UN mission base.

"As a youth of Nuer we condemn in strongest term possible the senseless killing of Nuer children and women by the government of [Salva] Kiir in south Sudan," said Koat Gatkuoth Thoat, the NYA chairman Ethiopia.

“This is clear plan by the Dinka government to eliminate one Ethic community in south Sudan under helpless and silent watch of united nation in south Sudan", he added.

Thoat, however, urged South Sudan’s warring parties to refrain from attacking civilians.


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  • 22 April 2014 07:27, by omoni jr.

    I doubt what UNMISS reported, 200 innocent people, really?? what these people wanted at the battle field? you have to double check your investigation, 500 Dinka soldiers and 200 JEM gangsters were perished last week in Bentiu, Not even a single civilians caught on crossfire.Let the report findings be accurate instead serving regime interest.

    • 22 April 2014 08:04, by Frak Cho

      Omoni JR,
      You are not in the front line and count really the 500 government soldiers plus 200 jem rebels from the North! This is your known propaganda war throughout the ages. In all Bar-El-Ghal states Nuer are living peacefully. Remember, till now Dinkas have not responded to your war-like-quest base on tribal interest. Please do not trouble the trouble till trouble troubles you!Mark me well.

    • 22 April 2014 10:02, by mathem jech amer

      So called Nuer Youth, instead of being busy always writing condemnation letters, better join the fight rather than running to refugees camps and pretending to be condemning.

    • 22 April 2014 11:05, by Wani khooto

      that was true,there was no SPLA soldier killed in bentiu as the withdraw and that is what fool all civilians hoping SPLA is defending the town.i am now in bentiu and mind you UNMISS is now regretting of supporting you guys all along.among those kill are Darfurian,Shilluk,Nuer supporter of Spla but i see Dinka are few women with kids.there was a mass grave we are dig out pple now,so bad

      • 22 April 2014 11:45, by omoni jr.

        wani khooto,
        you are just another dangerous liar, I know you are living somewhere in whitemen land, or Australia if in U.S ,mind you,please enjoy your alcohol peacefully, leave south sudanese alone.

    • 22 April 2014 12:40, by Rami Tot

      why government force refuse to let civilian to take shelter in UN bas UNIMISS at 14-16? this government is the one creating this mischief by letting civilian to be kill in cross fire.

    • 22 April 2014 12:47, by Rami Tot

      Darfurian civilan were transported to Heglig since December last year by UNIMISS and James Koang Chuol military governor of Unity stae by the way gmilitary governor transported even Dinkas not only foreigners how these people came back again i doubt they are Darfurian rebel JEM and SPLA-N and SRF

      • 22 April 2014 16:42, by Force 1

        Rami Tot
        You killed your own civilians just because they disagree with you politically; how does that make you rational? If you killed your own tribesmen; who is going to take you as sound minded people to govern anywhere in the country? It will take you people a very long time to fit into the common world.

  • 22 April 2014 08:20, by Son of Ngundeng

    Dear All.
    It was a wrong report by Dinka UN,for sure 500 Darfurian who are helping the wrong government in the wrong time, were surander when the fighting become worse, and then they drop their guns and intered to the Mosque and were killed, but UN don’t know the differentiation between South Sudanese and Darfurian because they are all black. Please UN don’t put a wood on fire to make it huge.

    • 22 April 2014 08:33, by Tong dut

      Let you pay back what took place at bor in Warrap state.
      2000is the number we wants so that he may resign soon.
      All goats cattle dogs(dinkas) must be kill.

  • 22 April 2014 08:41, by Majongdit

    The Nuer Youth Union has become so typical in their Nuer small thinking. How did the Youth fail to condemn the killing of 280 civilians in Bentiu and only focus on the 20 civilians killed in Bor?

    • 22 April 2014 10:21, by Joseph Canada

      Majongdit,let Nuer Express their feelings of the truth. Atleast they are right. How about you accept the fact that there was NO coup in South Sudan but the rebellion to finish Nuer people?

      • 22 April 2014 10:34, by Force 1

        Where is the outrage to condemn civilians massacre in Unity State?
        Joseph Canada
        If there were no coup; then why do they have to run and leave the city? If you were accused of a crime; do you leave the crime scene and run to hide yourself or you wait and proved yourself innocent?

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