The United Nations says many prisoners and civilians have been killed during in South Sudan’s two-week conflict.
The UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said in a Tuesday statement that it counted “large numbers” of bodies, and the “atrocities are continuing to occur” across the country.
“UNMISS is gravely concerned about mounting evidence of gross violations of international human rights law that have occurred in South Sudan during the past 15 days,” the UN mission said.
“Extra-judicial killings of civilians and captured soldiers have occurred in various parts of the country, as evidenced by the discovery of large numbers of bodies,” in the capital Juba, as well as Malakal and Bor, the main cities in Upper Nile and Jonglei states.
The UN representative in South Sudan, Hilde Johnson, also condemned “in the strongest possible terms the atrocities committed against innocent civilians of different communities by elements from both sides during the crisis.”
The political crisis in South Sudan began more than two weeks ago, after President Salva Kiir accused rebel leader Riek Machar of attempting a coup. Reports say thousands of people have been killed in the violence since then.
The fighting between troops loyal to Kiir, who is from the Dinka ethnic group, and opposition leader Machar, a Nuer, erupted around Juba on December 15.
South Sudan gained independence in July 2011 after its people overwhelmingly voted in a referendum for a split from the North.
The government in Juba is grappling with rampant corruption, unrest and conflict in the deeply impoverished but oil-rich nation, left devastated by decades of war.