UN Probes Reports South Sudan Army Killed 13 People in Jonglei

Dec. 10 (Bloomberg) -- United Nations and local government officials said they’re investigating reports that South Sudan’s army killed 13 people in a remote area of Jonglei state’s Pibor county.

Pibor county commissioner Joshua Konyi said by phone that he’s waiting for the lone survivor of the last week’s attack to recover from injuries so he can answer questions. UN officials are also looking into the incident, said Liam McDowell, a spokesman for the UN Mission in South Sudan. Army spokesman Col. Kella Kueth denied in a phone interview that the attack took place.

“We are aware of the reports and we are working to establish the facts,” McDowell said today by phone from the capital, Juba.

The violence in Jonglei, an eastern state bordering Ethiopia where Total SA has a stake in an oil exploration concession, has marred South Sudan’s year-old independence from the north. Ethnic clashes in the state last year killed at least 1,600 people, according to the UN.

The government started a disarmament campaign in March after the clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle ethnic groups. Amnesty International, Medecines Sans Frontiers and New York-based Human Rights Watch have released reports documenting abuses by government soldiers including rapes and beatings, mainly in Pibor county, homeland to the Murle.

Militia Members

Army officials said that those killed last week in Pibor were members of a rebel militia led by David Yau Yau, a former theology student and candidate for governor, Konyi said by phone from Pibor town, the county capital.

Jonglei governor Kuol Manyang said he’d also received reports of the killings by the government military, known as the Sudan People’s Liberation Army.

“If it happened, it is unfortunate and I believe the SPLA will investigate,” he said by phone from the state capital, Bor. “If that is what happened, definitely someone should be held accountable.”

More than 180 members of Yau Yau’s militia, led by commander Daug Kubrin, rejoined the army last week, McDowell said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Jared Ferrie in Juba, South Sudan, at jferrie1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Antony Sguazzin at asguazzin@bloomberg.net