January 2, 2013 (JUBA) - South Sudan army (SPLA) has formed a committee to investigate those involved in recent killings of innocent civilians, while another will probe what caused divisions within the presidential guards in mid-December last year, government said.
- Sudanese Peoples Liberation Army (SPLA) soldiers drive in a truck on the frontline in Panakuach on April 24. (Goran Tomasevic / Reuters)
Clashes within the presidential guards in the capital, Juba led to an outbreak of violence that later spread to other parts of the country, leading to over 1,000 deaths and displacing nearly 200,000 civilians.
“SPLA has formed 2 committees: to investigate those involved in killing innocent people [and] to investigate causes of Tiger Division incident”, the government announced on its official Twitter handle, #RepSouthSudan.
"We have captured criminals who have been utilizing this situation to loot innocent people & we will continue to capture them every day", it added.
South Sudan president Salva Kiir, a day after the violence outbreak, implicated his former deputy Riek Machar in an alleged coup attempt, while the latter claimed the incident was an inside job to silence opposition within the ruling party (SPLM).
But Kiir, in his Christmas message, warned the army against committing atrocities and decried what he called the spirit of tribalism growing in the country.
“Innocent people have been wantonly killed. There are now people who are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation, by means of taking the law into their own hands,” the president said on 24 December.
“This general line of orientation is unacceptable. It will only lead to one thing, and that is to turn this nation into chaos”, he stressed, warning that "unruly" and "undisciplined" soldiers would face justice.
According to the president, an immediate order has been imposed for the police to arrest anyone suspected of involvement in killing innocent civilians from their houses.
UN AND ACTIVISTS CONCERNED
Hilde Johnson, the head of the United Nations mission in the country expressed fears of possible increase in violence as fighting continues in many parts of South Sudan.
“There have been killings and brutality, grave human rights violations and atrocities committed. We have seen evidence of apparent targeting of South Sudanese citizens on ethnic grounds”, Johnson said at a press conference in Juba on Wednesday.
Such incidences, she stressed, could lead to a perpetual cycle of violence that can destroy the fabric of the new nation.
“We need to do everything possible to prevent such a cycle of violence between the communities of South Sudan”, Johnson said.
Edmund Yakani, the Executive Director for Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO) said, “Intentional atrocities and human rights abuses were committed by both members of the conflicting parties, we have observed this and the parties concerned shouldn’t deny”.
CEPO said it documented various cases of human rights violations and killings since violence broke out in the country on 15 December, saying the citizens were ready to give testimonies of atrocities committed during the these weeks of violence.
“The fear is, if there is no protection plan for the victims and witnesses, the atrocities may not be accounted for and denial of justices will occur”, Yakani said.