February 27, 2014 (JUBA) – A group of civilians from the Dinka Bor community said they were recently “spared” by rebel fighters from the rival Nuer ethnic group when Bor town, the Jonglei state’s capital, was overrun in January by the opposition forces loyal South Sudan’s ex-vice president, Riek Machar.
- South Sudanese who fled the fighting in Bor, Jonglei by boat to Awerial county in Lakes state January 2, 2014 (AP)
The group of elderly women and one man currently residing in Bor town on Thursday told the story of how they were protected by “Nuer fighters” who defected and captured the town under the command of Gen Peter Gatdet Yak in the aftermath of the 15 December violence in the South Sudan capital, Juba.
“When the Nuer tribesmen came to the town we went to hide ourselves in an empty house left by a Nuer family in Bor. After they fully controlled the town they started dancing,” Rosa Ayool, one of the survivors told Radio Tamazuj.
“In the evening I and my relatives went to my sister’s house who is blind so that we could stay there together,” she added.
Ayool recalled that as Gatdet forces were withdrawing from the town to be replaced by the allied “White Army” they posted guards to prevent the White Army fighters from killing them.
However, when the White Army entered Bor town, she said opinions differed among the fighters over whether to kill the Dinka civilians or not, but said nobody was killed in the family of six.
“Thank God none of us was killed – we were five women and an elderly man,” she explained.
She, however, said the Nuer fighters demanded from them money and mobile phones the family possessed in order to leave them alone, but later on one of their leaders told them not to loot.
“These people are very desperate, leave them alone,” she recalled hearing the man telling his fighters.
“They did not leave us until they took five telephones from us, but after a few minutes the god-fearing man who had saved our life came back again and gave us biscuits and water and advised us to look for a safer place instead of hiding in the house which is not secure,” she said.
Targeted killings based on ethnicity between the two major communities of Dinka and Nuer occurred from 16 December when forces loyal to president Salva Kiir allegedly massacred thousands of Nuer civilians in Juba, when the president accused his rival, Machar, a Nuer, for alleged attempted coup, which the latter denied.
Revenge killings against the two ethnicities reportedly occurred also in the other states and cities such as Malakal and Bentiu in Upper Nile and Unity respectively.