Girls under 10 raped by gunmen in South Sudan - aid agency
Unknown gunmen have raped 125 women during a 10-day spree of violence in the northern town of Bentiu in South Sudan, aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Frontiers (MSF) said yesterday.
South Sudan has suffered a five-year civil war and, despite a fragile peace accord signed two months ago by the government and rebel groups, is riven with ethnic grievances and awash with weapons.
As well as rape, survivors of the violence in Bentiu also reported being whipped, beaten and clubbed with sticks and rifle butts, MSF said in a statement.
They were also robbed of money, clothes, shoes and food ration cards.
"Some (of those raped) are girls under 10 years old and others are women older than 65. Even pregnant women have not been spared from these brutal attacks," said Ruth Okello, a midwife from MSF.
The state minister for information in Northern Liech State disputed the veracity of the reports.
"A rape of such a magnitude is not true," Lam Tungwar told Reuters. "We are a state (that) respects human rights and women's rights top our list."
Mr Tungwar said local courts would tackle the cases of violence in Bentiu and other counties, but added: "I don't concur with the current report because it doesn't (accurately) portray us and the community in Northern Liech state."
South Sudan's President Salva Kiir signed a peace agreement with rebel factions in September to end the civil war that erupted in 2013 and has killed some 400,000 people and forced a third of the population from their homes.
Previous deals have quickly fallen apart in the east African nation.