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JUBA - 13 Oct 2016

Kiir govt blocking peacekeepers from site of Yei road ambush

South Sudan’s government is blocking the U.N. from visiting the site of a deadly road ambush, according to the U.N. mission.

It is the latest obstruction of U.N. peacekeepers in South Sudan, which has repeatedly been promised full access across the country by the government.

“UNMISS has attempted to launch a number of patrols to the scene of the incident, and have been stopped on each occasion,” an UNMISS spokesperson said. “The Mission is yet to be granted access to these areas to place us in a position to independently verify the reports on the ground,”

The mission called for an end to attacks on unarmed civilians, saying they could be war crimes. The statements come as there has been inconsistency over the casualty estimate presented by different spokespeople of the government.

Ateny Wek Ateny, a spokesperson for President Kiir claims that 127 died in the attacks, but Minister of Information Michael Makuei claimed it was 21 on Wednesday. A spokesperson for the SPLA said 31 people died. At least 20 died in the attack according to the U.N. mission, who added that five more died after the SPLA responded. 

Sources in the SPLA say that at least 37 people were wounded or died in the attack. Around 70 people were on the bus that was attacked by anywhere from ten to thirty men with RPG’s, AK47’s and potentially other weapons.

For his part, deputy spokesperson of SPLA, Santo Domic denied that the mission has been denied from launching patrols to the scene of the incident, adding that the army liaison office is responsible for providing all the information to UNMISS.

He added that the mission should have contacted the army liaison office instead of publishing such a statement.

“The UMISS accused the SPLA of denying them access to launch patrols on Juba-Yei and Juba-Nimule roads. This is not true. First of all we have a liaison office in the SPLA responsible for anything concerning UNMISS. So they should notify us first. It is not permission but they must notify us,” said Domic.