February 1, 2012 / 6:52 PM / 8 years ago

U.N. investigates reports of South Sudan massacre

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The U.N. mission in South Sudan is investigating reports of a massacre of nearly 80 people by armed men in uniforms in Africa’s youngest nation, the United Nations said on Wednesday.

“According to local sources, so far 78 people were reported killed, 68 wounded, nine missing and thousands are reported to be displaced,” U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said.

“The team from the U.N. Mission (UNMISS) observed 15 bodies that were still unburied,” he said.

UNMISS personnel saw the unburied corpses in the Bulich area of South Sudan’s Warrap State, Nesirky said, adding that the attack had reportedly been carried out “by an unknown number of armed uniformed men from Mayendit County, Unity State.”

UNMISS’s human rights team will investigate the incident while humanitarian agencies operating in the region will hold an emergency meeting to coordinate a response, Nesirky added.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan in July 2011 under a 2005 peace agreement that ended decades of civil war with Khartoum, though the two sides have yet to resolve a long list of disputes. The south continues to grapple with tribal and rebel violence, as well as a dispute with Khartoum over oil revenues.

Earlier this month Russia announced that it was withdrawing its helicopters and crew from UNMISS, a move that will cause difficulties for the strapped mission.

Moscow said the decision had nothing to do with security.

Reporting By Louis Charbonneau; Editing by Sandra Maler

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