UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations said on Friday that South Sudanese security personnel had impounded four trucks carrying armored vehicles and equipment for peacekeepers in the capital Juba and assaulted the drivers, accusing them of transporting weapons to rebels.
“As of this morning, the (U.N.) mission is still trying to obtain the release of all trucks and their cargo. It calls on the government to immediately release the trucks along with the consignment of vehicles and equipment,” U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric told reporters in New York.
The equipment was destined for Ethiopian peacekeepers, he said.
Dujarric said South Sudanese troops had also stopped the U.N. peacekeeping mission, known as UNMISS, from visiting a site in Raga County in Western Bahr el-Ghazal state that had allegedly been bombed by Sudanese troops this month.
The troops also prevented the U.N. mission from visiting a local hospital where alleged bombing victims were being treated.
“The mission reminds all parties of the inviolability of U.N. assets and the need to ensure unhindered movement of U.N. personnel, including to Raga, so that the U.N. mission can fulfill its mandate,” Dujarric said.
Fighting erupted in December 2013 in South Sudan, which declared independence from Sudan in 2011, after months of political tension between President Salva Kiir and his sacked deputy and rival, Riek Machar. The conflict has reopened deep fault lines among ethnic groups, pitting Kiir’s Dinka against Machar’s Nuer.
Peace talks brokered by East African regional bloc IGAD have yet to reach a deal. The conflict has killed more than 10,000 people in the world’s newest state, caused over 1 million to flee and driven the country of 11 million closer to famine.
Reporting by Michelle Nichols; Editing by James Dalgleish