We are horrified by reports out of South Sudan that fighters aligned with rebel leader Riek Machar massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu. Images and accounts of the attacks shock the conscience: stacks of bodies found dead inside a mosque, patients murdered at a hospital, and dozens more shot and killed in the streets and at a church — apparently due to their ethnicity and nationality — while hate speech was broadcast on local radio. Bulldozers have buried the dead in mass graves, and the number of people seeking protection at the United Nations camp in Bentiu has grown from 8,000 to more than 22,000 in only two weeks. We are equally appalled by the armed attack last week at the UN Mission in South Sudan site in Bor that killed at least 48 civilians and injured dozens more.
These acts of violence are an abomination. They are a betrayal of the trust the South Sudanese people have put in their leaders. This is exactly the violence and suffering the South Sudanese people fought for decades to escape. Both President Kiir and Riek Machar must make clear that attacks on civilians are unacceptable, perpetrators of violence on both sides must be brought to justice, and the cycle of violence that has plagued South Sudan for too long must come to an end.