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Crime Wave Stalks South Sudan's Capital as War Ruins Economy

  • Victims of this month’s robberies blame armed men in uniforms
  • Country suffering hunger, monetary crisis caused by civil war
TOPSHOT - South Sudanese refugees carry chairs at the UNHCR camp of al-Algaya in Sudan's White Nile state, south of Khartoum, on May 17, 2017. More than 95,000 South Sudanese have entered Sudan so far this year, the UN said, as thousands continue to flee war and famine in the world's youngest nation. South Sudan, which split from the north in 2011, has declared famine in parts of the country, saying a million people are on the brink of starvation / AFP PHOTO / ASHRAF SHAZLY (Photo credit should read ASHRAF SHAZLY/AFP/Getty Images)
Photographer: Ashraf Shazly/AFP via Getty Images
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When three rifle-toting men in army uniforms barged into Silvano Pitia’s supplies store this month, he became the latest victim of a crime wave that’s rocking South Sudan’s war-weary, hunger-stricken capital.

“They told me that if I didn’t make them happy that night I would visit heaven or hell,” said Pitia, who was charging mobile phones and laptops for customers at his store in Juba, the capital, until the armed men seized the devices and about 200,000 South Sudanese pounds ($1,590) in cash. One gunman said they had the right to steal from the city’s inhabitants because the government hadn’t paid them, the 43-year-old shopkeeper recalled.