September 30, 2015 (BENTIU) – A South Sudanese armed opposition official on Wednesday accused pro-government forces of allegedly abducting 10 girls after military offensives in Geer and Kany-gai villages of Leer county in the oil-rich Unity state.
- Internally displaced people at a UN camp in Unity state capital Bentiu welcome the arrival of rebel forces on 29 October 2014 (ST)
Speaking over satellite phone, James Yoach said the attack contravenes the ceasefire.
Six of the allegedly kidnapped girls were said to be 14 years, while the rest were aged between 16-17.
“Our forces have never attacked pro government [forces], we are still on our position. We only retaliate if they attack our positions,” Yoach told Sudan Tribune.
Most of the attacks, the official alleged, targetted civilians whose properties were looted.
According to Yoach, majority of the abducted girls were used as sex slaves, allegations Unity state’s minister of culture, youths and sports, Lam Tungwar dismissed as untrue.
Lam earlier accused the rebels of attacking pro-government forces in the southern parts of the oil-rich state and vowed that the army would retaliate if provoked by rebel forces.
A recent report published by the London-based The Guardian newspaper gave horrific details of testimonies from rape victims in Unity state. Majority of those interviewed accused pro-government forces of allegedly turning women into sex slaves during war.
A United Nations report said targeting of civilians was one of the imminent practices that occured during the violence that took place in Unity state between April and May this year.
The attacks, according to the UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), “had not only been marked by rampant allegations of killing, rape, abduction, looting, arson and displacement, but also by a new brutality and intensity, including such horrific acts as the burning alive of people in their homes”.
The report indicated that all tactics were observed throughout Leer, Mayendit and Koch counties in the oil-rich Unity state and continued into early September.
It is estimated that between April and September, at least 1,000 civilians were killed, 1,300 women and girls were raped, and 1,600 women and children were abducted in Leer, Mayendit and Koch counties.
Thousands of civilians fled into swamps to escape the violence, only to be hunted down by armed attackers in their places of hiding. Children were also directly targeted.
According to the UN Monitoring and Reporting Mechanism, there were more reports of killings, abductions and sexual violence against children between April and June in southern Unity state than in all reports received from the entire country in the preceding 15 months combined.