South Sudanese government soldiers executed a journalist and gang-raped women when they overran a compound used by international organizations during fighting in the African nation’s capital last month, Human Rights Watch said.
At least 73 civilians were killed, others raped and aid agencies looted as a result of about five days of fighting that raged in Juba from July 7, the New York-based organization said Monday in a statement. Soldiers loyal to President Salva Kiir and army chief Paul Malong committed most of the crimes, it said.
“A year after South Sudan’s leaders signed a peace deal, civilians are dying, women are being raped, and millions of people are afraid to go home,” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch. “There is no more excuse for delay: top leaders need to be sanctioned and an arms embargo imposed.”
Soldiers loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar were driven out of Juba when Kiir’s forces attacked them using helicopter gunships and tanks. Machar fled his government post during the violence, mirroring the December 2013 start to a civil war that’s killed tens of thousands of people and forced more than two million to flee their homes.
United Nations peacekeepers didn’t do enough to protect women from rape in surrounding areas, the statement said. Human Rights Watch was unable to verify reports of abuses by Machar’s forces.
South Sudanese military spokesman Lul Ruai Koang said the report had been “published before corroborating” with the army and he had yet to see it.