UNITED NATIONS — An attack on a U.N. peacekeeping base in South Sudan where some 5,000 members of an ethnic minority had sought shelter killed 58 people and injured about 100 others, a U.N. official said Friday.
An angry mob of youths on Thursday attacked the U.N. peacekeeping mission's camp in Bor in Jonglei state, where ethnic Nuers fled after fighting broke out in the country in mid-December.
The U.N. official, speaking on condition of anonymity ahead of a formal announcement, said most of the 58 people killed were Nuers, but there were also casualties on the other side. Initial reports said 12 people were killed.
UNICEF, the U.N. children's agency, said an unknown number of children were among the dozens of civilians injured and killed in the attack.
"Utterly defenseless children were attacked in a place where they should have felt safe," Jonathan Veitch, UNICEF representative in South Sudan, said in a statement Friday. "The trauma for children under such circumstances is indescribable."
South Sudan saw massive violence sweep the country in December, when fighting broke out between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, and those loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer who was fired last July by Kiir. Thousands of people are believed to have been killed, and more than 1 million have fled their homes.
Since December, Bor has changed hands four times between South Sudan's military and rebels loyal to Machar.
In Thursday's attack, U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said, "the assailants, a mob of armed civilians, came to the base under the guise of peaceful demonstrators intending to present a petition. … The armed mob forced entry onto the site and opened fire on the internally displaced persons sheltering inside the base."
The U.N. official said Friday that a surgical team from Doctors Without Borders flew into Bor to help treat those injured in Thursday's attack. The United Nations has also reinforced security at Bor, the official said.
The U.N. mission in South Sudan and U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the "unprovoked attack."
On Friday, the Security Council issued a news statement expressing "outrage" at the attack and issuing a reminder that "attacks on civilians and U.N. peacekeepers may constitute a war crime."
The U.N. mission called for a full investigation into the "heinous murders."