South Sudan’s army pledged to investigate allegations its soldiers raped civilians after the United Nations said it documented 120 cases of sexual violence during fighting in the capital earlier this month.
The UN mission in the African country has received “deeply disturbing reports” of rape, including by men in army uniforms, that occurred near UN offices as well as other locations in the capital, Juba, spokeswoman Shantal Persaud said by e-mail. The global body has called on “all parties to the conflict to take personal responsibility for the immediate sanctioning of their soldiers involved in these unspeakable acts of violence,” she said.
Military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the armed forces are taking “the whole accusation very seriously.” He said a military court already tries troops and that at least 11 have been arrested for alleged crimes during the latest violence.
South Sudan’s peace deal was thrown into crisis three weeks ago when fighting erupted in Juba between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his deputy, Riek Machar, who had been trying to run a transitional government. About five days of clashes left at least 270 people dead and sent Machar into hiding. East African leaders want to send troops to boost the UN mission, which currently has about 13,000 uniformed personnel, and protect civilians.