ADDIS ABABA – South Sudanese rebels have called for the opening of purported mass graves in the capital city of Juba, where thousands of civilians were buried after the outbreak of violence.
The call came as U.S. Secretary of State, John Kerry, concerned about possible genocide in the world’s youngest state, visited the country in an effort to help to end the fighting.
South Sudan rebels said they have commenced probe into the atrocities in Bentiu, where 200 people were killed in recent violence, a rebel Spokesperson, Hussein Mar Nyuot, said on Friday.
Rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Army-Opposition welcomed the AU-led High-Level Commission of Inquiry into the South Sudanese conflict.
Nyuot warned that the investigations, to be led by former Nigerian President Olusegun Obasanjo should not be a cover up.
“We welcomed the investigation led by the AU. We want them to be neutral. This investigation is a test-case in Africa and the ability of African institutions to act during conflict,’’ Nyuot said.
The rebels insisted that while their fighters were being blamed for the atrocious in Bentiu, several Darfur movements sent uninformed fighters to help President Kiir.
“The fighting in South Sudan started in Juba. More than 20,000 people were killed and buried in mass graves. The government has intimidated everybody, including the UN from speaking about these issues,’’ Nyuot added.
The AU probe panel had been in South Sudan for a 10-day mission, during which the panel met with President Kiir and Rebel chief Riek Machar.
UN officials have blamed the rebels of killings in Bentiu, insisting that most of the victims were executed after their tribal identity were confirmed.
Earlier on arrival in Juba, Kerry said troops were urgently required in South Sudan and those responsible for the gross violations should be held accountable.
The peace talks in Addis Ababa, the Ethiopian capital, started on Thursday amid opposition pessimism that they were unlikely to lead to the signing of an agreement soon. (PANA/NAN)