UNITED NATIONS, United States: The UN Security Council on Thursday brandished the threat of targeted sanctions against those responsible for deadly violence in South Sudan, in a firm and unanimous statement.
The 15 Council members "expressed horror and anger" over the killings of hundreds of people in the oil town of Bentiu, and "expressed their readiness to consider appropriate measures against those responsible" -- an allusion to possible sanctions.
The Council called for "an immediate end to all human rights violations and abuses and violations of international humanitarian law" and demanded that the government of President Salva Kiir protect civilians.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on Monday that both South Sudanese and Sudanese -- some from Sudan's Darfur region -- were killed in "targeted killings" after rebels took Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan's oil-rich Unity state, from government forces last week.
In the main mosque alone, "more than 200 civilians were reportedly killed and over 400 wounded," UNMISS said.
The Security Council called on the office of UN human rights chief Navi Pillay to launch a probe into what happened in Bentiu.
Council members "deplored strongly the systematic targeting of civilians based on their ethnicity; the pursuit and execution of civilians inside places of safety, including a mosque, a church, and a hospital; and the use of radio broadcasts to foment hate and sexual violence."