South Sudan Rebels Deny Responsibility for Hundreds of Slain Civilians

Bodies All Over the Place, But Rebels Say No Massacre Happened

The oil rich South Sudan city of Bentiu is a grim sight indeed these days, with “piles and piles” of bodies lining the streets after the rebels seized the town from government forces, with massacres reported at multiple sites within the city and many hundreds believed dead overall.

Mountains of corpses aside, the rebels insist that not only were they not responsible for killing hundreds of civilians, but that no massacres actually took place at all, and that the only civilians killed were in the “crossfire.”

Many of the killings appear to have been ethnically motivated, with rebels targeting the Dinka locals, because the president is Dinka. The military has likewise targeted Nuer in the past, because the rebel leader, an ousted vice president, is Nuer.

The UN reported that civilians flocked to the local churches and mosque when the city fell, and some hid in the hospital. All were hit by attacks shortly thereafter. Thousands of civilians fled the city, and are now hiding on UN bases, which themselves have come under attack in recent days.

While most of the dead are believed to be Dinka, locals also reported that the attackers killed some Nuer who they accused of disloyalty for refusing to openly support the rebellion.

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Author: Jason Ditz

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com.