Fighting is reported to have resumed in Leer and Unity states of South Sudan amid increasing insecurity in many parts of the country.
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan said in a statement on Wednesday that it was extremely concerned over increased reports of violence and armed conflict in various parts of the country in the last few weeks.
UNMISS Force in Leer town reported heavy artillery and gunfire exchanges between SPLA and SPLA in Opposition leading to several reported deaths and the continued displacement of the civilian population in the area into the bush and swamps.
“We have also received continued reports of clashes in the Equatorias, and we are verifying accounts of attacks by unidentified armed men on a civilian convoy travelling from Yei to Juba, which led to the deaths of over 20 people, including women and children, and retaliatory actions by responding military personnel, which led to the deaths of a further five civilians.”
The Mission is yet to be granted access to these areas to place them in a position to independently verify the reports on the ground.
UNMISS attempted to launch a number of patrols to the scene of the incident, and have been stopped on each occasion.
“We are in direct communication with several government agencies, including the SPLA, in order to have these restrictions to our movement lifted, as yet without success.”
The Mission condemned in no uncertain terms the acts of violence and attacks against non-combatant civilians, and reiterated its urgent call for an immediate and complete cessation of hostilities, and more particularly, an end to any form of violence perpetrated against unarmed civilians, reminding all parties that such attacks may constitute serious human rights violations, including crimes against humanity and war crimes.
The Mission further called on all parties to immediately end the fighting throughout South Sudan, and further demands that they ensure that their commanders control their forces and protect civilians and their property, cease all hostilities, and work together for the good of the people of this country.
“UNMISS condemns in the strongest possible terms, any calls for a return to the violence that has plagued this country, and urges all parties to cease the rhetoric of incitement, which is not the answer to South Sudan’s problems.”
James Yoach, spokesman of the SPLA-IO faction in Unity State, told Radio Tamazuj that they clashed with Salva Kiir’s forces in Thonyor, Ding-ding and Mirnyal areas on Sunday afternoon.
He accused the government forces of attacking their positions in those areas.
Yoach claimed that they killed over 40 government soldiers during the clashes, while admitting that about two soldiers were killed and five others wounded from their side.