JUBA, South Sudan (AP) — Thousands of South Sudanese civilians fled a wave of ethnic clashes and face the danger of being attacked in hiding in what an international medical group on Tuesday called a pattern of "extreme violence."
Doctors Without Borders said Tuesday that wounded patients are still coming to their hospital with gunshot and stab wounds, weeks after the last attack in Jonglei state, a remote and volatile region of the new nation of South Sudan.
"One recurring characteristic of the attacks in Jonglei is their extreme violence," the group said in a statement, describing the account of one woman who said she ran away from attackers for 11 hours. She and her 15 family members were then found by a group of men who beat her daughter and shot at them, she said, wounding her in the thigh and her son in the chest. The boy survived.
The group said they had seen dozens of gunshot and stab wounds at one hospital and that 25 of their local staff of 156 are missing. The group said one of their clinics in the village of Lekwongole was largely destroyed.
"A deeply worrisome pattern is emerging, where people and their scarce resources are deliberately targeted by all the armed groups in this inter-communal violence," the statement said. "Hospitals, health clinics, water sources — these have become targets for armed groups on all sides, suggesting a tactic of depriving people of their basic life essentials just when they will need them most, after fleeing into the bush."
The U.N. has said that more than 120,000 people need humanitarian aid after a wave of clashes between the Lou Nuer and Murle communities in the remote and volatile region.
No reliable death toll for the clashes has yet been established. Officials have given tolls ranging from 160 to more than 3,000.
South Sudan broke away from Sudan in July.