Sources from South Sudan have reported the death toll in the Bentiu massacre on Monday and Tuesday of last week has now risen to 406.
Abakar Abdulah, who has traded in the region for more than five years, toldandnbsp;El Tagyeerandnbsp;newspaper that the forces of Riek Machar, known as the White Army, entered the city searching for Darfuris.
“They mercilessly killed all those they thought were Darfuri. When the targeting and killing increased, many people turned to the Grand Mosque for protection which was hit with shells and mortars, killing dozens of them in the spot, shouting ‘traitors’.”
A woman who has been living in Bentiu with her husband Batul Ibrahim for two years said: “I have seen with my own eyes many cases of rape, where girls were pulled from their home and raped in the middle of the road. Other witnesses confirmed the involvement of Sudanese army dressed in military uniforms in the targeting and killings inside the mosque.”
A report by the human rights section of the UN-AU mission (UNMISS) in Bentiu has confirmed the killing of dozens and rape of a number of women.
Joseph Contreras, the deputy spokesman for UNMISS said the Mission was unable to ascertain exact numbers of the Sudanese dead at the hands of the forces of Machar.
The UN’s top humanitarian official in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, was in Bentiu on Sunday and Monday. He took the main picture above, showing heavy machinery removing bodies from a Bentui street.
Speaking to the BBC’sandnbsp;Focus on Africaandnbsp;programme, he said that the scenes were “perhaps [the] most shocking set of circumstances” he had ever faced.
He said he saw “piles of [the bodies of] people who had been slaughtered” last week, adding that they all appeared to be civilians. Many of those killed were Sudanese traders, especially from Darfur, Lanzer told the BBC. A still from UN video footage on the BBC website clearly shows bodies lying in the streets of Bentiu.
The Sudanese government has not so far issued a statement about the events of Bentiu, nor talked about the number of victims or evacuated those who have survived the events.
Photo: Heavy machinery is used to move bodies of victims of the Bentiu killings (UN/Toby Lanzer)