South Sudan to Probe UN Rape allegations

South Sudan’s government is set to investigate claims by the United Nations that its troops raped and burnt girls alive inside their homes during recent fighting in the country’s ongoing civil war.

sudanEarlier this month, rights investigators from the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said the war in Sudan had seen “new brutality and intensity”, including gang rape, torture, and gruesome murders.

On Sunday, South Sudanese military spokesman Philip Aguer, acknowledged the daunting UN report,  saying in a statement to reporters that, “we have read the report and these egregious acts could only have been carried out by egregious individuals. Our army punishes with impunity any acts that deviate from the normal conducts of war.”

The UN had accused the South Sudanese army of raping and torching girls alive during a recent battle in a flashpoint border state in the country’s north.

Aftermath of fighting is seen in the Upper Nile state of South Sudan on June 10, 2015 (AFP)

The UN report was based on the testimonies of 115 victims and eyewitnesses from Unity State, also known as Western Upper Nile, located in the northeast of South Sudan, close to the international borders with the Republic of Sudan.

“Our army was created to protect our women and children, ensure their safety and their dignity. If in fact the UN report is accurate, then the few individuals responsible for these heinous crimes have brought shame to the SPLA (Sudan People’s Liberation Army) and that will not be tolerated,” he added.

He also said that “anyone deemed to have participated in these horrific crimes will be brought to justice before our court system and before God.”

The area has recently been the scene of some of the heaviest fighting in the 18-month-long civil war in the world’s youngest country.

The UN said that fighting, specifically in the Mayom district, once a key oil producing area, raged between the SPLA and rebel forces in April.

According to the UN “survivors of these attacks reported that SPLA and allied militias from Mayom County carried out a campaign against the local population that killed civilians, looted and destroyed villages and displaced over 100,000 people.”

South Sudan plunged into chaos in December 2013, when fighting erupted between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and defectors led by his former deputy and current rebel leader, Riek Machar, around the capital, Juba.

File picture shows South Sudan President Salva Kiir (L) and leader of South Sudan’s anti-govt. rebels Riek Machar. (AFP)

The clashes that ensued have left tens of thousands of people dead and forced millions of others from their homes.

South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from Sudan.

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