JUBA, South Sudan - South Sudan military forces tasked with carrying out a disarmament campaign among feuding ethnic groups are raping, torturing, and killing members of a minority community, community leaders and aid workers say.
The disarmament campaign follows two outbreaks of violence linked to cattle raids between the Murle and Lou Nuer tribes in the remote state of Jonglei. Hundreds - and probably more than 1,000 - people were killed in the two clashes.
The Sudan People’s Liberation Army, South Sudan’s military, embarked on a disarmament campaign in March in which more than 10,000 weapons have been taken so far, said military spokesman Colonel Philip Aguer.
But aid groups and community members say soldiers are killing and torturing members of the Murle, a tribe reviled by many other South Sudanese. Alleged abuses include simulated drownings, tying up young men to trees and beating them, and widespread rape of women.
The Murle appear to be ostracized by most other tribes in part because they received military support from leaders in Khartoum, Sudan, when the south and north battled in a two-decade civil war. The Murle also have a reputation for carrying out child abductions from other tribes and of conducting cattle raids that can result in hundreds of human deaths and tens of thousands of stolen cattle.
Allegations of abuse during the disarmament campaign are being investigated by military lawyers, Aguer said.
The aid group Doctors Without Borders said it has treated 30 patients since mid-March who suffered injuries from the disarmament campaign. Two have since died. Three patients had gunshot wounds, and 26 had trauma injuries from beatings, the group said. Aid groups contend such numbers are underreported because most of the attacks are in remote areas.