UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan in its first report on human rights abuses during the conflict said the report on the progress of human rights investigations offers a "snapshot" of the violence perpetrated mainly by forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, who is an ethnic Dinka, and rebel soldiers loyal to dismissed former vice president Riek Machar, who is an ethnic Nuer.

During more than 500 interviews, the report said, "Witnesses, victims and government and security officials reported the deliberate targeting of civilians, both nationals and foreigners, in extra-judicial and other unlawful killings, including mass killings, enforced disappearances, gender-based violence such as rapes and gang rapes, and instances of ill-treatment and torture by forces from both sides of the conflict."
Since incidents are still being investigated, the mission's human rights experts said ‘it is premature to judge whether or not sexual violence was used as a weapon of war’.

The government insists that the unrest was sparked by a failed military coup mounted by soldiers loyal to Machar. The ousted vice president denies the coup allegation but says his goal is to have Kiir removed from power.

While the trigger for the violence remains in dispute, the report said it has led to ‘a major security, human rights, and humanitarian catastrophe’, and increased ethnic polarization in the world's newest nation.

The report doesn't cover events in February but it said the situation on the ground is still volatile, and violations of human rights are continuing, especially, in areas where there is continued fighting.

The UN mission, in a release accompanying the report, said that in the recent battle for control of Malakal, the capital of Upper Nile State, there was fresh evidence of rights abuses including the extra-judicial execution of two children outside the perimeter of the UN compound on Thursday.


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