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South Sudan rebels engaged in ethnic killings: UN

[JURIST] The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) [official website] on Monday alleged that armed rebels engaged in ethnically targeted killings [press release, PDF] during a raid on the northern city of Bentiu last week, resulting in more than 200 civilian deaths and 400 injuries. Rebels loyal to deposed vice president Riek Marchar reportedly sought to capture Bentiu, the capital of Unity state, in order to seize [AFP report] the city's significant oil fields and installations. The UN reported that the massacres took place at a mosque, a hospital and an abandoned UN compound.

South Sudan [JURIST backgrounder] has been criticized for its human rights abuses since becoming an independent nation, and the domestic conflict is characterized by severe ethnic and sectarian violence. In an article published in February, JURIST guest columnist Kevin Cope of Georgetown University Law Center argues [JURIST op-ed] that constitutional structure may have a larger impact on the crisis in South Sudan than members of the international community realize. Also in February HRW issued [JURIST report] an analysis outlining the prevalent trafficking and torture of Eritrean refugees for ransom by Sudanese and Egyptian individuals that has been occurring since 2010. In January HRW called for [JURIST report] an international commission of inquiry among leaders from South Sudan, the African Union, and the UN to investigate targeted attacks on civilians based on ethnicity in South Sudan.

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