South Sudanese troops butchered civilians, shot children say refugees

Hundreds of South Sudanese refugees fled into Uganda for a second day on Wednesday, bearing further grim testimony of an attack by government forces on the border town of Pajok in which at least 17 people were killed, according to a Reuters tally.

Some were shot as they tried to flee. Others had their throats slit before their bodies were strung up from door frames. Two children were run down by a car.

The testimony from the refugees, more than 3,000 of whom have gathered just inside the Ugandan border, offers a glimpse of the brutality of a three-year civil war ripping apart the world’s youngest nation.

The government denies its Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) forces target civilians and said Monday’s operation in Pajok, a town of more than 10,000 people 15 km (10 miles) north of the Ugandan border, was to flush out rebel guerrillas.

Reports that its soldiers had killed residents were untrue, SPLA deputy spokesman Colonel Santo Domic Chol said. His troops had orders to refrain from entering and taking over Pajok, he said.

“This is not true. It is just a manufactured campaign against the SPLA. Some people are not happy, because the SPLA flushed out bandits and rebels who have been controlling Pajok for the last two years,” he told Reuters by phone.

“What I know is that the bandits are looting and killing the population in Pajok, starting on Friday, Saturday.”

South Sudan, which split away from Sudan in 2011 after decades of conflict, has been mired in civil war since President Salva Kiir sacked his vice president Riek Machar in 2013.

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