18 April 2014, News Wires – Dozens of people have been shot dead at a UN camp in South Sudan that was stormed by hundreds of gunmen in a raid on Thursday.
Around 350 youths forced their way into the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) camp in Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, and started shooting at civilians that were sheltering there.
Initial reports on Thursday said that around a dozen people had been injured. However, UNMISS said in a statement that there had also been deaths, without being able to verify how many.
The BBC quoted the UN’s top aid official in the country, Toby Lanzer, as saying that dozens of people had been shot dead.
“It is the bravery of the peacekeepers that managed to repel the attack,” he said. “Unfortunately we have had significant loss of life. I can’t confirm the number but I can tell you it runs into the dozens.”
Lanzer said the youths were in civilian dress and approached the base claiming to want to present a petition.
“It was totally unprovoked and I think that meting out violence on a group of civilians who are sheltering and seeking protection from the UN is not only cowardly, it is abominable.”
There were 5000 civilians sheltering in the camp. Two UN personnel were injured fending off the attack.
Fighting has also rocked the oil-rich state of Unity this week, with 10 workers of Russian company Safinat evacuated from Unity oilfield outside the capital Bentiu on Monday. Five were injured, one seriously, and all were due to be flown from an airfield near the UN base at Rabkona to the country capital Juba. However, as of Thursday it appeared this had not happened.
Fighting broke out in South Sudan’s capital Juba in mid-December after President Salva Kiir accused former vice president Machar of plotting a coup – something the latter denied.
Feuding quickly spread to other states, forcing the world’s newest nation to shut in about one fifth of its production.
Peace has largely reigned in the oil-rich nation, however, following a truce agreed in late January in Ethiopia.
South Sudan split from Sudan in July 2011, taking with it three-quarters of the original country’s oil reserves.
Khartoum relies heavily on revenues from oil production in South Sudan, which must use its neighbour’s midstream and port infrastructure for exports.