A deadly ambush has killed five peacekeepers and seven civilians working for the UN mission in South Sudan.
Reports say a group of rebels ambushed the UN convoy as it was traveling through the Jonglei state in the east of the African country.
The peacekeepers killed were reportedly all Indian nationals.
Widespread ethnic violence and cattle rustling have erupted in the country since it became independent from Sudan in 2011.
US Condemns the attack of the Peacekeepers
Last month 150 people were killed in a battle between the South Sudanese army and Yau Yau’s fighters in Jonglei.
U.S. Mission to the United Nations: Statement on the Attack on UN Peacekeepers in South Sudan
In her press statement in New York, US Permanent Representative to UN Susan E. Rice says the United States condemns today’s attack on a UN convoy in Jonglei, South Sudan.
“Our thoughts are with the families and loved ones of those who lost their lives, just as we pray for a speedy recovery for the injured and wounded.” – Ms. Rice
She says the men and women of the UN Mission are bravely helping the government and people of South Sudan promote peace and security in the world’s newest nation, and this tragic incident is a reminder of the hardship and sacrifice that UN peacekeepers endure daily around the world.
“Today, we honor their service as well as that of their fallen colleagues.” – Ms. Rice
‘Cycle of Ethnic Violence’ Rages in South Sudanese State
In 2012, a “cycle of violence” between ethnic communities in Jonglei state in South Sudan has escalated in town of Pibor and the village of Fartait in Jonglei, both the scene of recent attacks by a large group of armed youths from the Lou Nuer community, which has engaged in deadly clashes over the past year with the Murle community.
An outbreak of inter-ethnic violence earlier has left more than 40 people dead, most of them women, children and the elderly in December 2011.
Intense rivalry between the Luo Nuer and Murle communities in Jonglei, often over cattle rustling, frequently spark outbreaks of bloody clashes that have left hundreds dead and thousands displaced this year alone.
Ethnic clashes in South Sudan’s Jonglei state has affected more than 120,000 people.
In total, South Sudan has received more than 50,000 refugees from Sudan’s Blue Nile and Southern Kordofan states in recent months.
Nearly 33,000 Sudanese refugees have gone to neighbouring Ethiopia since June, most of them having the fled conflict in Blue Nile. They include more than 18,000 people hosted in two camps and a transit centre, and an estimated 14,000 living among the host community in border areas.
UNMISS is supporting the church-led Jonglei peace process as well as preparations for the Luo Nuer-Murle peace conference and the All Jonglei State Peace Conference in January.
UN agencies, backed by UNMISS, have launched a major aid operation in Jonglei – a remote area in the east of the country – to help the estimated 60,000 civilians in urgent need of humanitarian assistance. The distribution of food rations has begun in Pibor and will continue in the town and in other areas.
Ravaged by civil war, South Sudan is one of the least developed nations. Legislation since independence is still in the early stages. Few roads exist outside the capital Juba, while the economy entirely depends on oil.
UNMISS has reinforced its presence in key areas of Jonglei to protect civilians following the recent violence and is continuing to conduct daily air and land patrols. UNMISS has urged the Government of South Sudan to continue to discharge its primary responsibility to protect civilians and to encourage communities involved in the cycle on inter-community violence in Jonglei to respect their earlier commitments to stop the bloodletting and to resolve their differences through dialogue.
But the mission has repeatedly stressed that the Government has the main responsibility of restoring peace and stability.