BEIRUT

Middle East

S.Sudan rebels deny massacres, blame government

  • Slain bodies of civilians killed in renewed attacks lie along a road in Bentiu, Unity state of South Sudan April 20, 2014. REUTERS/Emre Rende

NAIROBI: South Sudanese rebels on Tuesday rejected UN accusations they massacred "hundreds" of civilians in ethnic killings when they captured a key oil town last week, turning the blame instead on the government.

"The government forces and their allies committed these heinous crimes while retreating," rebel spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said in a statement, while praising the "gallant forces" of the rebels.

"Claims that our forces are responsible is unfounded, cheap propaganda," he added.

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

The UN report said the killings continued after the army had fled the town, with the rebels celebrating the capture of Bentiu in a statement issued shortly after midday on the first day, April 15.

In the main mosque alone, "more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded," the United Nations said.

Fighters took to the radio to urge men to rape women from the opposition ethnic group and said rival groups should be forced from the town, it said.

Civilians including children were also massacred at a church, hospital and an abandoned UN World Food Programme compound, it said.

But the rebels branded the UN reports "ridiculous allegations fabricated by enemies of war".

Toby Lanzer, the top UN aid official in the country, told AFP after visiting the town of Bentiu he had witnessed the "most terrible sight".

"There are piles of bodies lining the streets where they had been executed, in the market, outside and inside places of worship... the majority wearing civilian clothes," he said.

Koang also rejected UN claims the rebels had used hate radio to encourage men to rape.

"On the use of Bentiu Radio, our forces and commanders use it to purely broadcast messages of peace, love and unity, not hate speech," Koang claimed.

 
Advertisement

Comments

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.

comments powered by Disqus
Summary

South Sudanese rebels on Tuesday rejected UN accusations they massacred "hundreds" of civilians in ethnic killings when they captured a key oil town last week, turning the blame instead on the government.

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

Koang also rejected UN claims the rebels had used hate radio to encourage men to rape.


Advertisement

FOLLOW THIS ARTICLE

Interested in knowing more about this story?

Click here