Rebels in South Sudan killed more than 200 civilians who were sheltered in a mosque after seizing the area last week. Approximately 400 more were also wounded at the mosque. The United Nations (UN) strongly condemned the killing calling it “the targeted killings of civilians based on their ethnic origins and nationality.”

The rebels captured Bentiu, the capital of the oil-producing Unity state. After the capture, rebels were actively searching a number of places where South Sudanese and foreign civilians found refuge, and killed them based on their ethnicity or nationality.

The fighting also disrupted oil production, cutting a large portion of the government revenue.

The radio station in the area was taken and used to broadcast hate speeches imploring “men from one community to commit vengeful sexual violence against women from another community,” the UN confirmed.

Women and children from the Nuer ethnic group were killed, due to their refusal to join other Nuers who were openly cheering the rebels as they occupied the town of Bentiu. Individuals from other South Sudanese communities, alongside people from Darfur, were also targeted and massacred at the hospital. The same was done to hundreds of other civilians who were hiding in a mosque and a Catholic church.

In a Twitter post, Toby Lanzer, current Deputy Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, explained the atrocities as “bodies of people executed” lying in the streets of Bentiu.

Thousands of innocent civilians have been killed since December, and more than one million displaced since the start of a power struggle between President Salva Kiir and former Vice President Riek Machar.

A ceasefire was signed in January but has been ignored periodically, and the peace talks conducted in the Ethiopian capital Addis Abada havealso been postponed regularly.

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