At least 232 civilians were killed and 120 women and girls raped this spring in attacks by South Sudan government troops and aligned forces in opposition-held villages, the UN human rights office said.
A UN investigation identified three commanders suspected of bearing the “greatest responsibility” in violence in Unity state between April 16 and May 24 that may amount to war crimes, it said in a report.
Elderly and disabled civilians were burned alive in the attacks on 40 villages, which appeared aimed at driving out opposition forces, it said.
“The perpetrators must not be allowed to get away with it,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad al-Hussein.
Reiterating his call on government and African Union to establish a hybrid court for South Sudan, he said soldiers slit elderly villagers’ throats, hanged women for resisting looting and shot fleeing civilians.
The UN report said opposition forces carried out armed attacks causing civilian casualties.
The UN mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said on May 17 it was sending 150 peacekeepers to protect civilians targeted in clashes between government and rebel troops in Unity state, which hosts abandoned oil fields.
There was no immediate reaction to the report from the Juba government.