Home | News    Wednesday 24 August 2011

Landmines kill 5 and injure 21 in South Sudan’s Unity state

By Bonifacio Taban Kuich

August 23, 2011 (BENTIU) – Two separate landmine blasts in South Sudan’s Unity state have killed five and injured twenty over the weekend according to witnesses and government officials. Rebel groups were blamed for planting the mines.

A LandmineA Toyota pickup land cruiser ran into a mine field in Rubkotna County on Saturday resulting in three deaths and 15 people being seriously injured, witnesses told Sudan Tribune.

On Sunday another public bus carrying 12 passengers from Bentiu town heading to Nhialdiu hit landmines killing two and injuring six, state Minister of
Information and Communication Gideon Gatpan Thoar said on Monday in Bentiu

Thoar said the government suspects a militia linked to Gai Yoach was responsible. Yoach joined the South Sudan army (SPLA) from Sudan’s Armed Forces (SAF) in August last year ahead of South Sudan’s independence referendum.

Since a 2005 peace deal, former rebel group - the Sudan people Liberation Army (SPLA) - have been the legal army in South Sudan and its political wing - the SPLM - the ruling party.

South Sudan seceded in July but is riven with rebel groups who have various grievances against the government. Juba accuses Khartoum of backing the rebels. Sudan routinely denies the allegation.

Yoach who was formerly part of the Khartoum controlled SAF under Colonel Wal Khan has in the past been accused of carrying out previous attacks in Unity state.

On Sunday the governor of Unity State Taban Deng Gai, said laying the landmines on the road to attack civilians was a crime against humanity. Gai said that his government’s attempts to make peace with Yoach had failed.

The Governor said that even Yoach’s stepson was among those killed in Sunday’s attack.

VP Machar calls for peace

The vice president of the Republic of South Sudan Riek Machar addressed Church congregations in Bentiu on Sunday in an attempt to act as an agent of peace particularly in Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity states, which have been battered by conflicts between rebels and the government.

Machar accused the groups of carrying out atrocities and planting mines that kill and threaten the lives of innocent civilians in the state.

He called upon all of Unity State to act as the agent of change to bring peace to their communities. Machar added that “our problem as people of Unity State must be solved by us”, he said, "we don’t need anyone to come and tell us to behave well without applying our responsibility as people of Unity State."

Machar strongly welcomed former rebel leader Peter Gatdet back into the SPLA after he had rebelled against the government earlier this year complaining that tribalism and nepotism were ruining the government. Gatdet was responding to an amnesty offered by the president of the Republic of South Sudan Salva Kiir.