Military investigating South Sudan gang rape claim

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The South Sudanese military has launched a rare investigation into allegations soldiers gang-raped villagers, a bishop told Reuters on Sunday, after a week of high-level army resignations by officers citing rampant abuse.

Anglican Bishop Paul Yogusuk said soldiers attacked at least five women and girls in Kubi village, south-west of Juba, a week ago following an ambush on a military convoy in the area.

The ministry of defence sent a senior officer to investigate rape allegations, he said.
“This is a test case for the army, to see if they are serious about justice,” said Yogusuk. “The army has taken measures to investigate … they sent a brigadier general.”

Three high-ranking military officers and a minister resigned recently, citing rampant brutal human rights abuses by the military and ethnic favouritism that grants Dinka officers impunity.

Two officers oversaw the military courts system and said in their resignation letters interference from senior Dinka officers left them unable to hold soldiers to account for abuses.

Referring to the latest claims, Yogusuk said soldiers beat and raped villagers from Kubi and locked the men in a small metal shed without food for two days.

Military spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang said he was preparing a statement but was unable to comment on allegations.

The military previously said it weeds out soldiers who commit abuses, but has provided little evidence to prove it. The UN has documented hundreds of rapes involving soldiers in the capital alone but investigations by the authorities are rare.

Yogusuk said the attack left five women needing hospital treatment, including two girls aged 12 and 13.
“They were raped by many soldiers, not just one,” he said.

Resident Wani Mosa Ladu (23) told Reuters soldiers arrived in the morning of February 12 as people were preparing to go to market.
“The soldiers begin beating us, asking us to show them who was shooting people along the highway road. The soldiers consider us rebels,” he said.
“Our mothers disappeared … some them were raped. Our property was taken from our homes, every door was broken.”

Village chief Philip Ladu Samuel said he was beaten and detained along with 46 other men.
“The whole area was looted and destroyed,” he said.