South Sudan Soldiers Let 50 Suffocate in Container, Monitors Say

South Sudan government forces were responsible for the deaths of 50 civilians who suffocated in a container in the war-torn country’s Unity state in October, cease-fire monitors said.

The investigation into the incident was “protracted,” according to a report dated Jan. 29 from the Joint Monitoring and Evaluation Commission that was submitted to the African Union. It didn’t give further details.

Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk said he had no information about the event. “If there was such an incident then it should have been brought to my attention,” he said Monday by phone from the capital, Juba. “If it was not brought to my attention as a minister then this report is not true. Reports by individuals without authentic evidence should be verified.”

War that erupted in South Sudan in December 2013 has left tens of thousands of people dead and forced more than 2 million others to flee their homes. A peace deal signed in August by President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar is stalling amid a dispute over Kiir’s reorganization of the oil-producing country into 28 states.

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