Over 3,000 killed in South Sudan massacre: local official

Over 3,000 people were killed in South Sudan in brutal massacres last week in an explosion of ethnic violence that forced tens of thousands to flee, a local official said Friday as the UN increased patrols.

"There have been mass killings, a massacre," said Joshua Konyi, commissioner for Pibor county in Jonglei state.

"We have been out counting the bodies, and we calculate so far that 2,182 women and children were killed and 959 men died."

United Nations and South Sudanese army officials have yet to confirm the death toll and the claims from the remote region could not be independently verified, though the UN said Friday it had stepped up land and air patrols in key areas of Jonglei.

If confirmed, the killings of 3,141 people would be the worst outbreak of ethnic violence yet in the fledgling nation, which split from Sudan in July.

A column of some 6,000 rampaging armed youths from the Lou Nuer tribe last week marched on the remote town of Pibor, home to the rival Murle people, who they blame for abductions and cattle raiding and have vowed to exterminate.

The Lou Nuer gunmen attacked Pibor at the weekend, torching huts and looting a hospital, only withdrew after government troops opened fire.

Over a thousand children are missing, feared abducted, while tens of thousands of cows were stolen, added Konyi, himself an ethnic Murle.

The UN humanitarian coordinator for South Sudan, Lise Grande, said she feared "tens, perhaps hundreds" may have died.

"Yes, there have been casualties, but we don't have the details, and can't at present confirm what the commissioner reports," Jonglei state information minister Isaac Ajiba said.

"We are awaiting reports from our (military) forces on the ground," added South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer. "For the assessment to be credible they must have gone into the villages to count all the bodies."

South Sudan has declared Jonglei state a national "disaster area", while the UN has said it will launch a "massive emergency operation" to help those uprooted by the violence.

"The needs are great ... It is currently estimated that 50,000 people are affected," Elisabeth Byrs, spokeswoman for the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), told reporters in Geneva.

The UN mission in South Sudan "has reinforced its peacekeepers presence in key areas of Jonglei and is conducting daily land and air patrols to deter potential violence," spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

"At this stage it is very difficult to get an accurate picture," he added.

Lou Nuer fighters are returning home after the army also beefed up reinforcements in Pibor, while the World Food Programme (WFP) has flown in emergency rations to support the thousands displaced.

A statement from a group calling itself the "Nuer White Army" claimed responsibility for attacks on the Murle, and warned of more assaults if they retaliate.

"If they did that, we will launch surprise attacks which will lead to more bloodshed and displacements," the group said, warning the government that "any attempt to disarm the Nuer White Army will lead to catastrophe."

Doctors Without Borders (MSF - Medecins Sans Frontieres), the main health care provider for the estimated 160,000 people in Pibor county, has suspended its operations after the clashes forced it to evacuate staff.

"Parts of the town have been burnt, our facilities were completely looted, but people are coming back and are not afraid any more, it is stable now," said Parthesarathy Rajendran, MSF head of mission, after visiting Pibor.

"There are enormous needs, some people need every single item. Our first priority will be medical care, but we are planning to provide non-food items as well so people can start rebuilding," he added in a statement Friday.

Newly independent South Sudan had been left in ruins by decades of war with northern forces who fuelled conflict by backing southern militia, exacerbating historical enmity between rival groups.

Ethnic violence, cattle raids and reprisal attacks in the vast eastern state left over 1,100 people dead and forced some 63,000 from their homes last year, according to UN reports.

Loading...

Editor’s note:Yahoo Philippines encourages responsible comments that add dimension to the discussion. No bashing or hate speech, please. You can express your opinion without slamming others or making derogatory remarks.

  • Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel
    Lupita Nyong'o's $150,000 Oscars dress stolen from hotel

    The $150,000 pearl-studded, custom-made Calvin Klein dress worn by Oscar-winning actress Lupita Nyong'o at this year's Academy Awards has been stolen, police said on Thursday. The gown, embellished with 6,000 natural white pearls, was stolen from Nyong'o's room at the London Hotel in West Hollywood, during the day on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in West Hollywood said. "Ms Nyong'o was not in the room at the time of the theft," Deputy John Mitchell …

  • US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians
    US-led strikes on IS after group seizes 220 Christians

    The US-led coalition has carried out air strikes against the Islamic State group in northeastern Syria, where the jihadists have launched a new offensive and kidnapped 220 Assyrian Christians. The raids on Thursday struck areas around the town of Tal Tamr in Hasakeh province, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said, without giving information on possible casualties. The town remains under the control of Kurdish forces, but at least 10 surrounding villages have been seized by IS, along …

  • Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts
    Militants abduct more Christians, smash ancient artifacts

    BEIRUT (AP) — Islamic State militants seized more Christians from their homes in northeastern Syria in the past three days, bringing the total number abducted by the extremist group to over 220, activists said Thursday. …

  • 3 Pinays on Forbes power women list
    3 Pinays on Forbes power women list

    Three Filipina executives, who are all daughters of known business tycoons in the country, made it to Forbes’ list of the 50 most powerful businesswomen in Asia. Teresita Sy-Coson, vice chairman of SM Investments and chairman of BDO Universal Bank, was included in the list for the fourth year in a row since its inception. “Under her (Sy-Coson) lead SMIC became the largest listed company on the Philippine Stock Exchange by market cap. Also in the 2015 list is 70-year-old Helen Yuchengco-Dee, …

  • 13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital
    13 of 15 SAF survivors to leave PNP hospital

    Thirteen of the 15 Special Action Force (SAF) policemen who survived the bloody firefight with Muslim rebels in Mamasapano last month are ready to go home after a month of medical treatment, a police official said yesterday. Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Chief Superintendent Generoso Cerbo Jr. said the two remaining survivors will have to stay in hospital for further treatment, one of whom has shrapnel embedded near his spine. One of the two SAF commando survivors is still …

  • Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2
    Review: SKK Mobile V2, a P3,999 watered-down LG G2

    How well does this P3,999 offering from an underdog in the local mobile industry stack up against the competition? Let's find out. …

  • US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea
    US sends spy plane to patrol disputed sea

    The United States has deployed its newest and most advanced surveillance aircraft for patrols over the West Philippine Sea and South China Sea. The P-8A Poseidon aircraft completed more than 180 flight hours from Feb. 1 to 21 from Clark Air Base, according to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet. …

  • China bans ivory imports for 1 year to protect elephants
    China bans ivory imports for 1 year to protect elephants

    BEIJING (AP) — China imposed a one-year ban on ivory imports that took immediate effect Thursday amid criticism that its citizens' huge appetite for ivory has fueled poaching that threatens the existence of African elephants. …

POLL

Should Aquino be held accountable over the Mamasapano operations?

Loading...
Poll Choice Options