Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

'Piles and piles' of bodies in South Sudan slaughter

NAIROBI, Kenya — The townsfolk believed the mosque was safe. They crammed inside as rebel forces in South Sudan took control of the town from government troops. But it wasn't safe. Robbers grabbed their cash and mobile phones. Then gunmen came and opened fire on everyone, young and old.

The United Nations says hundreds of civilians were killed in the massacre last week in Bentiu, the capital of South Sudan's oil-producing Unity state, a tragic reflection of ethnic hostilities in the world's newest country.

"Piles and piles" of bodies were left behind after the shootings, said Toby Lanzer, the top U.N. aid official in South Sudan. Many were in the mosque. Others were in the hospital. Still more littered the streets. The violence appears to have been incited in part by calls on the radio for revenge attacks, including rapes.

The attack, which targeted members of certain ethnic groups, was a disturbing echo of what happened two decades ago in another country in eastern Africa. Rwanda is marking the 20th anniversary this month of a genocide that killed an estimated 1 million people.

Thousands of people have been killed in violence in South Sudan since December, when presidential guards splintered and fought along ethnic lines. The violence later spread across the country as soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, tried to put down a rebellion led by Riek Machar, the former vice president and an ethnic Nuer.

But Lanzer told the Associated Press in a phone interview Tuesday that the April 15-16 mass killings, carried out by Nuers, are "quite possibly a game-changer" in the conflict.

"It's the first time we're aware of that a local radio station was broadcasting hate messages encouraging people to engage in atrocities," said Lanzer, who was in Bentiu on Sunday and Monday.

As rebel forces entered Bentiu last week, residents were led to believe that by entering the mosque they would be safe, Lanzer said, citing accounts from survivors.

Then the gunmen killed wantonly, including children and the elderly, said Lanzer, who counted at least 150 bodies.

In New York, a U.N. spokesman said many bodies remain by the side of the main road between Bentiu and Rubkona, another town in Unity state.

In this image taken from video, people in South Sudan travel on the road near Bentiu on Sunday. The United Nations says hundreds of civilians were killed in a massacre in the town last week.

Associated Press

In this image taken from video, people in South Sudan travel on the road near Bentiu on Sunday. The United Nations says hundreds of civilians were killed in a massacre in the town last week.

'Piles and piles' of bodies in South Sudan slaughter 04/22/14 [Last modified: Wednesday, April 23, 2014 12:59am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

Copyright: For copyright information, please check with the distributor of this item, Associated Press.
    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. South Korea military: North Korea fires unidentified projectile

    World

    SEOUL — North Korea launched a ballistic missile early today that flew 280 miles and landed in Japan's exclusive economic zone, the South Korean military and the Japanese government said.

    S. Korean President Moon Jae-in is assessing the launch.
  2. Rays blow lead, rally, blow lead, rally again to beat Twins in 15 (w/video)

    The Heater

    MINNEAPOLIS — The Rays sure made it interesting Sunday, taking an early lead, watching their beleaguered bullpen blow it, rallying to tie in the ninth, battling the Twins to take a lead in the 14th then giving it up again.

    MINNEAPOLIS, MN - MAY 28: Evan Longoria #3 of the Tampa Bay Rays celebrates scoring a run against the Minnesota Twins during the first inning of the game on May 28, 2017 at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minnesota. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images) 700010990
  3. Marijuana extract sharply cuts seizures in severe form of epilepsy

    Medicine

    An oil derived from the marijuana plant sharply reduces violent seizures in young people suffering from a rare, severe form of epilepsy, according to a study published last week that gives more hope to parents who have been clamoring for access to the medication.

  4. 'I ain't fit to live': Police say Mississippi gunman kills 8

    Crime

    BROOKHAVEN, Miss. — A man who got into an argument with his estranged wife and her family over his children was arrested Sunday in a house-to-house shooting rampage in rural Mississippi that left eight people dead, including his mother-in-law and a sheriff's deputy.

    People embrace Sunday outside the Bogue Chitto, Miss., house where eight people were killed during a shooting rampage Saturday in Lincoln County, Miss.
  5. Kushner's Russia ties questioned as Trump cites media 'lies'

    National

    WASHINGTON — Congressional Democrats on Sunday demanded to hear directly from top White House adviser Jared Kushner over allegations of proposed secret back-channel communications with Russia, saying the security clearance of President Donald Trump's son-in-law may need to be revoked.