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UN inquiry to probe attack at South Sudan camp

A high-level board of inquiry will investigate how United Nations peacekeepers responded to an attack at their camp in South Sudan where tens of thousands of civilians were sheltering, a UN spokesman said on Friday.

world Updated: Mar 12, 2016 15:46 IST
South Sudanese civilians flee fightings in the northeastern town of Malakal on February 18, 2016, where gunmen opened fire on civilians sheltering inside a United Nations base, killing at least five people, the latest in a string of atrocities in the war-torn nation.
South Sudanese civilians flee fightings in the northeastern town of Malakal on February 18, 2016, where gunmen opened fire on civilians sheltering inside a United Nations base, killing at least five people, the latest in a string of atrocities in the war-torn nation.(AFP Photo)

A high-level board of inquiry will investigate how United Nations peacekeepers responded to an attack at their camp in South Sudan where tens of thousands of civilians were sheltering, a UN spokesman said on Friday.

Gunmen in army uniforms stormed the camp in the northeastern town of Malakal on February 17 and 18, firing on civilians and torching shelters.

At least 25 people were killed and 160 were wounded.

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said the independent panel will “conduct an in-depth investigation into the UN mission’s response to clashes that broke out.”

The UN mission in South Sudan is also reviewing security at the eight “protection of civilians” sites, he added.

Over 47,700 people live inside the Malakal base, many of whom came from areas where no aid or shelter had been available for months.

It is one of eight UN bases providing a haven since the war in South Sudan began in late 2013. The bases, sheltering around 200,000 people, are protected by razor wire and no weapons are allowed in them.

UN Assistant Secretary-General for Human Rights Ivan Simonovic, who recently traveled to South Sudan, said the inquiry should provide answers on how weapons were smuggled into the camp and how the “large number” of gunmen stormed the compound.

The panel should look at “what United Nations forces could have done to prevent some people in the site, which we were supposed to protect, from getting hurt,” he added.

About 1,200 peacekeepers are deployed at the compound in Malakal.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has condemned the attack and warned that attacks on UN peacekeeping bases may constitute a war crime.