Gunmen raped 125 women during a 10-day spree of violence in a town in northern South Sudan, according to the aid agency Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF). Local officials disputed the report.
Survivors of the violence in Bentiu said they were also whipped and beaten with sticks and rifle butts, MSF said, and they were robbed of money, clothes, shoes and food ration cards.
“Some 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.“
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 a civil war that erupted in 2013 and has killed 400,000 people and forced a third of the population from their homes. Previous peace deals have quickly fallen apart.