Bentiu air raid kills at least one, forces hundreds to flee

23 Apr 2012

Bentiu air raid kills at least one, forces hundreds to flee

23 April 2012 - Two areas of Bentiu in South Sudan's Unity State were bombed this morning, allegedly by the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF), killing at least one civilian and injuring four others.

Fighter jets dropped one bomb on Rubkona Market area and three around Rubkona Bridge, according to UNMISS Military Liaison Officers (MLOs) in Bentiu.

"A young boy burned to death as the hut he was in caught fire from the blast in Rubkona market area", said one of the MLOs.

Bentiu Hospital Director Dr. Peter Gatkuoth Tob said an unnamed 10-year-old boy had died on arrival at the hospital. "About 10 to 11 persons were brought here this morning. The little boy didn't make it."

Angry residents accused the SAF of planning a large-scale massacre of civilians. "See what has happened today, these people want to kill us," said resident Matiek James Kuoh.

Minister of Information and Communications Gideon Gatpan Thoar Kon said air raids were carried out concurrently in neighbouring Abienhom County, injuring four people.

He asked the international community to condemn the attacks, which had also caused hundreds of residents to flee to neighbouring towns, and call for tougher actions against the Republic of Sudan.

"Everyone is seeing what is happening to our land and our people," Minister Kon said. "We called on the world to take action against Sudan."

"The people have asked our government to leave Heglig (an area claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan)," cried Mayom Perry Deng, a store owner in Rubkona. "Now we are being killed. This is not fair."

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon released a statement after the bombings, condemning the aerial bombardment on South Sudan by Sudanese Armed Forces and calling on the Sudanese government "cease all hostilities immediately".

"The Secretary-General reiterates that there can be no military solution to the disputes between Sudan and South Sudan," the statement said.

Mr. Ban called on Sudanese President Omar Al-Bashir and South Sudanese President Salva Kiir to "stop the slide towards further confrontation" and urged both sides to return to dialogue as a matter of urgency.

UNMISS also released a statement, deploring the continued aerial bombardments in Bentiu town, which is heavily populated by civilians.

"These indiscriminate bombings resulting in the loss of civilian lives must stop," said Hilde F. Johnson, Special Representative of the Secretary-General for South Sudan.

"I remind the parties to the conflict of their obligation to abide by international human rights and humanitarian law, take all measures not to harm civilians, and guarantee the safety of international aid organizations and United Nations personnel and assets," SRSG Johnson said.