Group accuses South Sudanese army of crimes

2015-07-22 14:40
File: AFP

File: AFP

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Johannesburg - The South Sudanese army and allied militia have committed human rights violations while fighting rebels in the country's oil-rich north, the rights group Human Rights Watch said on Wednesday.

The organisation said it had documented about 60 unlawful killings of civilians, including children and the elderly. They were hanged, shot or burned alive. HRW also reported 63 cases of rape, including gang rape.

The crimes took place during a government offensive to recapture rebel-held areas in Unity State in April and June.

The HRW report was based on more than 170 interviews with survivors and witnesses. The number of documented cases "almost certainly represents only a fraction of the total", the group said.

Power struggle

"Women and girls are bearing the brunt of this brutal offensive as fighters target them for rape, abduction, beatings, and forced labour," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at HRW.

He also reported "brutal attacks on fleeing civilians combined with widespread burning of villages, food, and other items that people need to survive".

The attacks sent tens of thousands of people fleeing to a United Nations base in Unity capital Bentiu and to the wilderness.

The UN and other organisations have also reported widespread atrocities during South Sudan's 18-month military power struggle between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.

Both sides of the conflict have been accused of massacres and rape, which are often believed to be ethnically based.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands, and displaced about two million people.

The army has previously promised to investigate allegations of atrocities.

Read more on:    hrw  |  salva kiir  |  riek machar  |  south sudan  |  east africa

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