JUBA, South Sudan (AP) – The United Nations secretary-general is launching an independent investigation into allegations that U.N. peacekeepers did not respond to prevent multiple cases of abuse and sexual violence against civilians and foreigners in South Sudan’s capital.
Ban Ki-moon’s spokesman said late Tuesday that the U.N. chief is alarmed by reports of the July 11 attack on a compound popular with foreigners in Juba. The Associated Press this week reported that South Sudanese troops went on a nearly four-hour rampage through the compound in one of the worst targeted attacks on aid workers in the country’s three-year civil war.
Several witnesses told the AP that soldiers shot dead a local journalist while forcing the foreigners to watch, raped several foreign women, singled out Americans, beat and robbed people and carried out mock executions.
Separately, several witnesses also told the AP that U.N. peacekeepers in Juba did not stop the rapes of local women by soldiers outside the U.N.’s main camp last month. The violence came days after fighting erupted in Juba between opposing army factions.
The U.N. chief “urges, once more, the government of South Sudan to investigate these human right violations and to prosecute those involved in these unspeakable acts of violence,” his spokesman said in a statement.
Nineteen soldiers have been arrested “because of crimes committed in July” and currently face military trial, army spokesman Lul Rai Koang said Wednesday. He did not give details.
South Sudan President Salva Kiir told lawmakers on Monday that his government is also investigating the attack at the compound.
Kiir also said the country’s military was not “completely subordinate to the authority of a civilian government” and that the government “will show zero tolerance” toward sexual assault.