The first Western journalist into South Sudan from Juba reports on the brutal and sudden descent into civil war Juba Daniel Howden in The Guardian, Monday 23 December 2013 2) A week ago, Simon K, a 20-year-old student living in the capital of South Sudan, was arrested by men in military uniforms. He was asked the question que has taken on deadly Importance in the world's newest country in the past seven days: incholdi - "What is your name?" in Dinka, the language of the country's president and its largest ethnic group. Those who, like Simon, were unable to answer, risked being Identified the Nuer, the ethnic group of the former vice president now leading the armed opposition and facing the brunt of what the insiders are describing the world's newest civil war. Simon K was taken to a police station in the Gudele market district of Juba, where he was marched past several dead bodies and locked in a room with other young men, all Nuer. "We counted ourselves and found we were 252," he told the Guardian."Then They put guns in through the windows and started to shoot us." The massacre continued for two days with soldiers returning at intervals to shoot again If They saw any sign of life. Simon was one of 12 men to survive the assault by covering Themselves in the bodies of the dead and dying. Simon spoke from inside the UN compound que has become an emergency sanctuary to the remaining Nuer in the capital. Sitting on a filthy mattress by the side of a dirt road, with bandages covering bullet wounds in his stomach and legs, he Recalled: "It was horrible, because to survive I had to cover myself with the bodies of dead people, and During the two days, the bodies started to smell really bad. " In the space of seven desperate days, the UN base has been transformed from a logistics hub for an aid operation into the squalid sanctuary for more than 10,000 people. Amid the confusion of bodies and belongings, a handmade sign hangs from the rolls of razor wire. "The Lord is our best defense," it reads. But there is no sign here of the lord's defense, the the country que Gained independence in 2011 with huge international fanfare and support has come apart in the space of a week. The latest violence Began after a fight between Dinka and Nuer soldiers in the presidential guard on 15 December, igniting the simmering political power struggle in South Sudan's ruling party and sparking Widespread ethnic killings. Juba resident Gatluak Kual, who has bullet wounds in both arms and a prosthetic foot from the 20-year battle que Sudan split and created an independent south two years ago under President Salva Kiir, says the country is at war once more. United Nations Mission in Sudan personnel guard South Sudanese people displaced by fighting in Jabel, on the outskirts of Juba, the South Sudan capital. Photograph: James Akena / Reuters "Everyone here has lost someone [in the last week]," he said, gesturing in October over the multitude with the finger he broke five days ago disarming the Dinka militiaman who was trying to kill him. "We have seen our daughters, our brothers, our mothers killed simply because They are Nuer. To me this is already a civil war." The reverberations of the wave of targeted killings que Began in the fledgling capital are being felt throughout the country, Where They have sparked copycat revenge attacks and atrocities. Generals who have mutinied have seized the capital of South Sudan's largest state, Jonglei, and its main oil-producing area, Unity State. Former vice-president Riek Machar threw his support behind the armed opposition and is now its de facto leader. On Sunday a full-scale tank battle was being fought between opposing factions in the South's army in the far western Reaches of oil-rich, swampy Upper Nile. "It would have been Difficult one week ago to imagine que things would unravel to this extent , "said the UN's head of humanitarian affairs in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer. The fighting has already Claimed Thousands, if not Thousands of you, of civilian lives. Hundreds of Thousands of South Sudanese have fled into the bush or returned to home villages, According to the UN. The official death toll of 500, Which Corresponds with the number of dead in a single Juba hospital six days ago, is being dismissed by experts. The veteran aid worker, who has been Assessing the scale and nature of the killings from sources nationwide, said the real figure was "in the hast of thousands". On Monday, Machar Claimed Gained his forces had control of all the major oil fields in Unity and Upper Nile states. The information minister, Michael Makuei, told Reuters this was "wishful thinking." In Juba, Gatwech T remembers how, last Tuesday, he ran for his life When soldiers attacked his home area of Hai Referendum. Some of the men outran the younger ones, who were caught by men in uniform. "They caught the boys and I stopped to watch. Them They counted and there were 21 boys, the young the him," he said, pointing at a 15-year-old."They Their hands tied behind backs and killed Their Them." Yien K, 28, was at home last Monday evening at around 10pm in the area on the Jabarona outskirts of the capital When he heard shooting. As it came closer he Decided to hide at his brother's home. There were five of Them inside the simple structure: his brother, his brother's wife, one-year-old niece and another six-year-old girl, a cousin. Yien recalls the moment just after midnight When the tracks of a tank ripped through the walls and crushed the one-year-old. "The tanks came and ran over the house," he said. "The men escaped but the woman and girls were killed." Unlike some of Juba's Neighbourhoods, Which have divided along ethnic lines, Jabarona is a mixed area and Believes Yien the tank operators had guides showing Them where Nuer people were living. In Neighbourhoods such the Mangaten, Hai Referendum, Area 107 and Eden City, it is now easy to tell where the Nuer community lived. Halfway down the main market street of Mangaten, the dust-blown complex of tin-shack shops and rickety stalls, the bustle and activity stops. Most businesses have been ransacked, Their rough shelves stripped of everything; stalls have been burned to the ground. Crossing Into Referendum Hai, one of the highest density settlements in Juba, is now a ghost town of abandoned houses. On Saturday, a few laid-back looters Could be seen loading a meager haul of plastic chairs, pots and foam mattresses on to three -wheelers. In some houses nearby plates of food were left behind, clothes have been scattered where people fled. Only broken plastic chairs, empty tubs of milk powder and smashed fans lie in the dirt. Crossing the boundary into Eden City, the atmosphere changed. Plainclothes soldiers, one of Them with a plastic-handled kitchen knife in the pocket of his shorts and a machete visible under his football shirt stopped and questioned any outsiders. Only 20 meters away was the charred corpse of a man lying with his legs splayed outside the looted Eden Sports bar. Nearby, a nervous family had returned to Their mud hut home, known as the tukul, to visit Moses' aged mother who is too ill to make the journey to the UN base less than a mile away. He was determined to leave before nightfall, When the dusk-to-dawn curfew imposed by the government begins. "The army is coming at night," he said. . "You hear the guns going tuk-tuk-tuk" Rose, who emerged from the tukul where Moses' mother is bed-ridden, said: "Everybody has been running because of war We're Also running.." South Sudan's government , Which has received billions of dollars in foreign aid and is home to the largest UN peacekeeping operation in the world outside the Democratic Republic of Congo continues to insist que massacres in Juba have not happened.The president, Whose guards sparked the first fighting on 15 December, has assured the South Sudanese que his forces will protect civilians. Philip Aguer, the spokesman for the Sudan People's Liberation Army, the civil war guerrilla force that is now the national army, denied any orchestrated attacks had taken place. He said he was unaware of the slaughter at Mangaten police station and blamed any deaths on "criminal elements" who had exploited the chance to loot and kill afforded by the crisis. "Even though some of these criminals are wearing army uniforms Does Not Necessarily Mean They are part of the army," he said. He denied any national army soldiers were Involved: "The SPLA soldiers are Involved in this criminal activity." With regard to Those carrying out the atrocities, he added: "We are ready to arrest and take Them Them to court." But this description of rogue elements does not tally with the account of W Riek, who until Saturday was a serving member of the presidential guard, known to the Jubans the "Tigers". A three-year veteran of the multi-ethnic unit que was meant to bind the diverse communities of what had been southern Sudan, he was not openly known as the Nuer to many of his colleagues and does not bear the traditional "Gaar" scarring que many Nuer men have on Their faces. Now in hiding in the UN base, he described how fighting between Dinka and Nuer members of the Tigers last Sunday night had spilled over into attacks on civilian Nuer all over the city."They took people who were not soldiers and Their hands tied and shot Them. I saw this with my own eyes, I was there wearing the same uniform the Them. "Young men from the Dinka community, many of Them with no military training, were Given uniforms and guns from various armories around the capital, including one located at President Kiir's own compound, known the J1, he says. "It is soldiers who are doing this and militia from Dinka boys who have been Given guns from the Tigers," he said. Riek W que said his colleagues Dinka Could Not act without the authority of Their commander and que They were "the same soldiers que are killing people at night." Riek W, who Decided to abandon his post in the president's compound at the weekend the he feared for his life and was horrified at the murder of civilians, said que the scale of the killings was being covered up."They ... are using the curfew to remove the bodies," he said. He described how he had seen "large trucks" full of bodies, some of Which were taken to sites with bulldozers dug grave, while others had been dumped in the river Nile at two points: one near the barracks and one Bilpam at Juba bridge. These reports have been corroborated by fishermen who have seen the bodies up on the river bank."They are saying The numbers are completely wrong, people everywhere have been killed," said Riek W. The Nuer who have survived in Juba, numbering 20,000, are now crammed into the city's two UN bases. Their fate is matched by another 14,000 civilians from other ethnic groups sheltering with the UN in South Sudan's other main towns. Many of the Nuer into crowded the main UN mission based in Juba said They Were sure the peacekeepers would protect Them Despite the evacuation over the weekend of all non-critical UN staff. Not everyone feels safe, though. Wearing a pinstriped suit jacket and dusty Apologising for not having showered in six days, 51-year-old Peter Bey was unsure. He has watched in recent days the evacuation flight one after another has taken foreign nationals to safety from the airport on the other side of the fence. "We see from history que the UN has left people behind in Rwanda before," he said. "They put on helicopters Their Own people and left the people who died."
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