A report by Human Rights Watch says soldiers under the formal command of South Sudan general chief of staff Paul Malong contributed greatly to the killing, rape and extensive looting of civilian property during the July clashes.
“Soldiers, operating under the formal command of General Paul Malong and President Kiir committed most of the crimes” the report reads in part.
The group also says it received reports of abuses committed by the SPLA-in-Opposition (IO), Machar’s forces, but could not independently verify them.
In many cases, government forces appeared to target non-Dinka civilians.
The report was compiled by researchers who reportedly visited Juba in July after the clashes and documented multiple crimes, most committed by government soldiers from the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA).
“On August 12, the UN decided to send more peacekeepers to Juba but put off a long-overdue arms embargo. The continued supply of arms only helps fuel the abuses on a larger scale.” said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.
On July 8, 2016 fighting started between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, and those of his first vice-president, Riek Machar, a Nuer, during a cabinet meeting at the presidential compound.
The violent gun battle was preceded by weeks of heightened tensions between the forces in the capital surrounding lingering delays in implementing the peace agreement.
Researchers documented targeted killings, rapes and gang rapes, beatings, looting, and harassment, often along ethnic lines, in several areas of Juba. The Thongpiny, Munuki, Mangaten, Gudele, and Jebel neighborhoods were particularly affected.
Due to security restrictions to some affected areas, researchers could not establish the full scale of abuse.
In the fighting at least 73 civilians were killed according to the UN, and 36,000 people sought refuge at UN and aid group compounds during or directly after the fighting.
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