Residents of Wau town said yesterday that bodies of people killed in clashes still strewed the streets in various residential areas with more than 10,000 civilians fleeing amid harsh humanitarian conditions on Saturday.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj yesterday, several citizens said dozens of dead bodies were lying in the streets at Kalbari, Kalkalu, and Hai Kosti as well as Jebel-Khair areas.
Juma Zakaria Deng, Secretary General of the opposition United Democratic Salvation Front party (UDSF) in Wau, said sources told him that about 400 people were killed.
“There are dead bodies lying on the ground in the streets in Wau, so the situation is terrible, and the situation is deteriorating,” said Dang. “Through the radio I call on the humanitarian organizations to provide relief as soon as possible because all food items and medicines were looted.”
Deng accused government troops of targeting civilians based on ethnicity, saying the presidency is responsible for what he termed as “genocide and ethnic cleansing” in Wau. According to the opposition leader, removal of the state governor worsened the insecurity situation in Wau town. He called upon the international community to set up a neutral committee to investigate the incident.
For his part, Ateny Wek Ateny, South Sudan’s presidential spokesman, said the state governor was dismissed over lawlessness in the town.
Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, Ateny said Governor Elias Waya himself confirmed that Wau town was witnessing insecurity, prompting President Salva Kiir to remove him. Ateny accused the ousted governor of failing to control the security situation in Wau State.
“The president decided to remove the governor after Wau witnessed fighting because he couldn’t manage security issues in a good way. So what I want to confirm is that the fighting erupted before the presidential decision,” said Ateny.
However, Brig. Lul Ruai Koang, SPLA spokesman disputed reports that clashes erupted within Wau town between the government forces and an armed group, saying the clashes were outside the town. He pointed out that the armed group tried to enter the town but SPLA forces thwarted their attempts to reach the town.
Lul accused a group of opportunists of entering the town during fighting and looted citizens’ properties before SPLA forces could control the situation. The spokesman claimed that they have not yet received any report on the death toll in the clashes that erupted around Wau town.
Several activists also told Radio Tamazuj that thousands of people including children and pregnant women fled to Ngo Halima area, about 20 kilometres away from Wau town.
Meanwhile, Tango Peter, a leading member of the SPLM-IO faction, said about 35,000 people fled to areas under their control on the outskirts of Wau town.