Scores of women raped in South Sudan — aid agency

Some are girls under 10 years old and others are women older than 65. (AFP)
Updated 01 December 2018
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Scores of women raped in South Sudan — aid agency

  • South Sudan’s President signed a peace agreement with rebels to end the civil war that erupted in 2013 and has killed some 400,000 people

JUBA: Unknown gunmen have raped 125 women during a 10-day spree of violence in the northern town of Bentiu in South Sudan, the aid agency Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) said on Friday, but local officials disputed the report.
South Sudan has suffered a wrenching five-year civil war and, despite a fragile peace accord signed two months ago by the government and rebel groups, remains riven with ethnic grievances and awash with weapons.
Civilians from rival groups bear the brunt of the violence and cycle of revenge.
As well as rape, survivors of the violence in Bentiu also reported being whipped, beaten and clubbed with sticks and rifle butts, MSF said in a statement. They were also robbed of money, clothes, shoes and food ration cards.
“Some (of those raped) are girls under 10 years old and others are women older than 65. Even pregnant women have not been spared from these brutal attacks,” said Ruth Okello, a midwife from MSF.
The state minister for information in Northern Liech State where the attacks were reported disputed the veracity of the reports.
“A rape of such a magnitude is not true,” Lam Tungwar told Reuters. “We are a state (that) respects human rights and women’s rights top our list.”
Tungwar said local courts would tackle the cases of violence in Bentiu and other counties, but added: “I don’t concur with the current report because it doesn’t (accurately) portray us and the community in Northern Liech state.”
South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir signed a peace agreement with rebel factions in September to end the civil war that erupted in 2013 and has killed some 400,000 people and forced a third of the population from their homes.
Previous peace deals have quickly fallen apart in the east African nation.


Gangsters attack train passengers in Hong Kong after night of violent protests

Updated 29 min 32 sec ago
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Gangsters attack train passengers in Hong Kong after night of violent protests

  • Groups of men in white were seen by eye-witnesses with poles and bamboo staves at a nearby village
  • The Hospital Authority said 45 people were injured in the Yuen Long attack
HONG KONG: Hong Kong’s opposition Democratic Party is investigating attacks by suspected triad gangsters on train passengers on Sunday, after a night of violence opened new fronts in the political crisis now deepening across the city.
Screams rang out when men, clad in white t-shirts and some armed with poles, flooded into the rural Yuen Long station and stormed a train, attacking passengers, according to footage taken by commuters and Democratic Party lawmaker Lam Cheuk-ting.
Some passengers had been at an anti-government march and the attack came after several thousand activists surrounded China’s representative office in the city, later clashing with police.
Lam, who was injured in the attack, said he was angry about a slow police response after he alerted them to the trouble, government-funded broadcaster RTHK reported.
Lam said it took police more than an hour to arrive after he alerted them and they had failed to protect the public, allowing the triads to run rampant. The party is now investigating.
“Is Hong Kong now allowing triads to do what they want, beating up people on the street with weapons?,” he asked reporters.
Police said early on Monday they had not made any arrests at the station or during a follow-up search of a nearby village but were still investigating.
Yau Nai-keung, Yuen Long assistant district police commander, told reporters that an initial police patrol had to wait for more reinforcements given a situation involving more than 100 people.
Groups of men in white were seen by eye-witnesses with poles and bamboo staves at a nearby village but Yau said police saw no weapons when they arrived.
“We can’t say you have a problem because you are dressed in white and we have to arrest you. We will treat them fairly no matter which camp they are in,” Yau said. Hong Kong has been rocked by a series of sometimes violent protests for more than two months in its most serious crisis since Britain handed the Asian financial hub back to Chinese rule in 1997.
Protesters are demanding the full withdrawal of a bill to allow people to be extradited to mainland China for trial, where the courts are controlled by the Communist Party, fearing it would undermine Hong Kong’s judicial independence.
They are also demanding independent inquiries into the use of police force against protesters.
On Sunday police fired rubber bullets and tear gas to disperse activists on the edge of Hong Kong’s glittering financial district after they had fled China’s Liaison Office.
The Chinese government has condemned the action, which saw signs and a state symbol daubed with graffiti.
The unrest in Hong Kong marks the greatest popular challenge to Chinese leader Xi Jinping since he came to power in 2012.
The Hospital Authority said 45 people were injured in the Yuen Long attack, with one in a critical condition. Some 13 people were injured after the clashes on Hong Kong island, one seriously, the authority said.
Some police had been injured in the clashes after protesters hurled bricks, smoke grenades and petrol bombs, said a police statement.