At least 232 civilians were killed by South Sudanese government forces, their allies and armed youth in the country’s north in April and May, the United Nations said.
Many more were injured in the raids on villages in opposition-controlled areas in Mayendit and Leer from April 16 to May 24, according to an investigation by UN human-rights monitors. The elderly and very young children were among those killed in “horrific acts of violence,” with some hung from trees and others burned alive, the UN said on Tuesday. An army spokesman said he was unaware of his forces’ involvement in any atrocities.
The acts documented “constitute gross violations and abuses of international human rights and humanitarian
law” that “may amount to war crimes,” the UN said.
Its probe identified three individuals “who may bear the greatest responsibility,” one of whom was “reportedly removed from his functions,” according to the statement, which didn’t give names.
Tens of thousands of people have been killed and 4 million forces from their homes in South Sudan since the civil war began in December 2013. Leaders of the warring parties have been holding peace
talks, recently declaring a cease-fire and their intention to agree a transitional power-sharing government.
Army spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said that investigators should provide more evidence so the military can conduct its own probe.
“Let the survivors also come up to report so that we can prosecute whoever committed atrocities, but to the best of our knowledge we did not do anything,” he said.