A map of Jonglei area where several United Nations personnel were killed in an ambush on April 9, 2013. The region of South Sudan has been a flash point since the country gained independence in 2011., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
Jonglei ambush kills 5 UN peacekeepers, 7 civilian staff
April 9, 2013 (JUBA) - Five United Nations peacekeepers and seven civilian staff from the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) were killed on Tuesday in an ambush by an unidentified armed group in Jonglei state.
According to an UNMISS press release, at least nine peacekeepers and civilians were injured in the attack, in addition to those who were killed. Some other UN staff also remain unaccounted for, after the incident which occurred near Gumuruk in Pibor county.
The Special Representative of the Secretary-General in South Sudan, Hilde F. Johnson, has condemned the attack in the strongest terms, expressing her condolences to the relatives and colleagues of those who died.
In Tuesday’s press release, Johnson said that the "attack will not deter UNMISS and its peacekeepers from working to protect vulnerable communities in South Sudan", adding that her mission "is determined to continue its work in supporting authorities ensure peace."
Ban Ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General equally condemned in the "strongest" term the killing of the five Indian peacekeepers, two UNMISS national staff and five civilian staff contractors in Gumuruk.
He urged the Government of South Sudan to bring the perpetrators of this crime to justice, adding that the killing of peacekeepers is a "war crime that falls under the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court".
"The Secretary-General expresses his deepest condolences to the Governments of India and South Sudan and to the families of the peacekeepers, staff members and contractors killed in the attack," partly reads the statement extended to Sudan Tribune.
Gumuruk is located in Jonglei’s volatile Pibor county where rebels have been fighting the government on and off since since 2010 when David Yauyau lost his bid to become a member of the state’s parliament, representing the Gumuruk constituency.
The area has also been blighted by cattle raids between the Murle tribe of Pibor county and other ethnic groups in Jonglei state.
The poor security situation means that UNMISS peacekeepers frequently patrol the area as part of their Chapter VII mandate from the UN Security Council - granted shortly after the country’s secession from Sudan in July 2011 - to protect South Sudanese civilians.
UNMISS’s patrols also aim to protect the many humanitarian aid convoys that operate in Jonglei to provide assistance those affected by the fighting between the rebels and the South Sudanese army (SPLA), which has been carrying out a disarmament campaign in the area for over a year.
The SPLA’s spokesperson, Colonel Philip Aguer, said on Tuesday that the military was not responsible to for the for the attack, saying the army knows very well that the mission is in the country with a mandate that provides support to the government.
The military officer did not provide any figures of those involved in the incident, saying his office was still waiting for details from the scene of the attack.
“Our forces in Jonglei have managed to restore the situation. It is now under control. It is duty of the government to bring peace so that the country enjoys stability and will will put to an end these criminal activities. The SPLA is capable of handling it”, Aguer told reporters Tuesday.
In December last year the SPLA shot down an UNMISS helicopter in Pibor mistaking it for a Sudanese army aircraft, killing its four Russian crew members. South Sudan alleges that Khartoum is backing Yauyau’s rebellion by supplying him with weapons and ammunition, an allegation denied by the north.