Extreme violence in South Sudan massacres
Juba - Doctors Without Borders warned on Tuesday of "extreme violence" in South Sudan's Jonglei state, where weeks of bloody ethnic violence has affected at least 120 000 people and left an unknown number dead.
Eyewitness testimonies gathered by the aid agency Doctors Without Borders (MSF - Medecins Sans Frontieres) include reports of babies beaten against trees and women forced to watch their children have their throats slit.
"A pattern of extreme violence is being used against civilians - women and children, some as young as one year old, have been severely injured," MSF said. "People and their scarce resources are deliberately targeted by all the armed groups," MSF added, the main healthcare provider in the remote area of attacks.
The world's newest nation is reeling from weeks of brutal revenge attacks between rival ethnic groups over cattle raids and abduction of people.
Earlier this month a column of up to 8 000 armed youths from the Lou Nuer people marched on the remote town of Pibor, home to the rival Murle, whom they blame for cattle raiding and have vowed to exterminate.
MSF collected the gruesome testimonies from wounded people still arriving at its clinic in Pibor from hiding in the bush.
"We ran and tried to hide in the high grass when we heard them approaching," a 24-year-old woman from the village of Lekuangole, who was shot in the cheek and thigh when Lou Nuer gunmen torched the village.
"But they heard my child crying... they abducted my child and slit the throats of the two boys in front of us," she told MSF, adding 18 people from her family and that of her husbands were killed.
One MSF watchman and his wife were killed in the Pibor attacks, in which an MSF clinic was looted and ransacked, while 25 local staff members are still unaccounted for three weeks later.
The government and United Nations peacekeepers mandated to protect civilians have so far been unable to assess how many people were killed, but say estimates by senior local officials that thousands were killed are inflated.