Extremists Attack Hospitals in South Sudan, Shooting Bedridden Patients

A displaced South-Sudanese man carries a goat as he and others wade through mud-filled paths between makeshift tents in the United Nations base which has become home to thousands of those displaced by recent fighting. (AP Photo/Matthew Abbott)NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Patients were shot in their hospital beds, medical and humanitarian staff killed, and medical facilities were destroyed in fighting in South Sudan since December in actions that breach international law, an aid group said in a report released Tuesday.

Doctors Without Borders said the attacks on health facilities are denying medical assistance to hundreds of thousands. The group said of 58 killed in four hospitals, 25 were patients, 27 had sought shelter, four remain unidentified and two are government officials. Hospitals have also been looted.

"Humanitarian law and principles provide legal protection to civilian populations and medical personnel and the medical mission in particular. Deliberate attacks on medical facilities and personnel constitute a clear violation of such provisions," the group said in a report that stated all parties in the conflict are bound by provisions of International Humanitarian Law.

South Sudan was plunged into violence in December when President Salva Kiir accused former Vice President Riek Machar of attempting a coup.

Thousands have died and more than 1.3 million people have fled their homes since the conflict erupted, often pitting Kiir's Dinka tribe against Machar's Nuer community. The fighting has reduced significantly since the latest cease-fire agreement signed on June 10, but the negotiations being held in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia between the two factions have stalled.

The United Nations has also said in reports that there have been gross violations of human rights "on a massive scale."

In Bor the capital of Jonglei State, a team from Doctors Without Borders was told of 14 patients who were shot dead in the Bor State Hospital during December attacks. The team said they also saw the decomposed bodies of a woman and child in a water tank in the hospital compound.

At the Malakal Teaching hospital in the capital of Upper Nile State, a Doctor Without Borders emergency coordinator said after withdrawing in February because of heaving fighting, the aid workers returned later that month and found 14 dead bodies scattered around the compound. Eleven of the bodies belonged to patients.

"Such acts also have far-reaching consequences, as people become afraid of hospitals and of seeking medical care," the aid group said and appealed for accountability from the all armed actors engaged in the conflict.

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