Middle East

'No doubt' thousands dead in S. Sudan violence: U.N.

In this photo released by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), the U.N.'s Deputy Special Representative and Humanitarian Coordinator Toby Lanzer, center, assists wounded civilians from Bor, the capital of Jonglei state and said to be the scene of fierce clashes between government troops and rebels, after they were transported by U.N. helicopter to Juba, South Sudan Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013. (AP Photo/UNMISS)

JUBA: Thousands of South Sudanese have been killed in over a week of violence, the top UN humanitarian chief in the country said Tuesday, the first clear indication of the scale of conflict engulfing the young nation.

"Absolutely no doubt in my mind that we're into the thousands" of dead, Toby Lanzer told reporters.

The official toll nationwide has stood at 500 dead for days, although numbers are feared to be far higher, aid workers say.

Witnesses whom AFP has spoken to recount a wave of atrocities, including an orchestrated campaign of ethnic mass killings and rape.

UN rights chief Navi Pillay said Tuesday that a mass grave had been found in the rebel-held town of Bentiu, while there were "reportedly at least two other mass graves" in the capital Juba.

The grim discoveries follow more than a week of escalating battles between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those backing his rival Riek Machar, a former vice president who was sacked in July.

Machar's forces were driven from the town of Bor on Tuesday by the army, but still hold Bentiu, capital of the key oil-producing state of Unity.

Lanzer said the situation in Bentiu remained "tense."

"There are a lot of armed men, almost no civilians on the street," he said. "There are now well over 7,000 civilians within the UN base, where they've had to extend the perimeter."

Fighting has spread to half of the young nation's 10 states, with hundreds of thousands fleeing to the countryside, prompting warnings of an imminent humanitarian disaster.





Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

Alert: If you are facing problems with posting comments, please note that you must verify your email with Disqus prior to posting a comment. follow this link to make sure your account meets the requirements. (

comments powered by Disqus



Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here