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Teresa Nyakouth, “He was still holding his shoes when he died”

Teresa Nyakouth points to where a bomb fell in her home town of Bentiu, South Sudan
(Hannah McNeish/IRIN)

Teresa Nyakuoth, a 24-year-old mother of two, was shopping in the market next to her home in Rubkhona, a district of the South Sudanese town of Bentiu, when a Sudanese bomb fell on 23 April.

The blast killed one teenage boy instantly, and another died later that day in hospital, where he had been admitted with severe burns and head wounds.

Around a dozen people were wounded in the bombing, which caused widespread panic among local communities.

At least five people were killed about a week earlier when a bomb hit a tea shop in Bentiu, the capital of Unity state.

During IRIN’s visit to Bentiu, two rockets landed near a bridge leading to Rubkhona.

According to South Sudanese officials, Bentiu, which lies at least 70km from the border with Sudan, has been bombed four times in 10 days.

Residents IRIN spoke to expressed their frustration that although South Sudan had bowed to international pressure to withdraw from the contested borderland oilfields of Heglig, Sudan had ignored similar pressure to halt its aerial attacks south of the border.

Nyakuoth recalled the events of 23 April:

“I heard some noise when the plane bombed people, and immediately people were running away, and then I saw a boy had been bombed and died.

“Shops were burning up and everyone was scared of the plane.

“The boy used to go to school and play with the other small boys in the football field.

“His father told him to go with three other boys and buy some shoes. He was still holding the shoes when he died. He was only a teenager.

“The main bomb fell on that shop, and then fire spread to two other shops.

“That plane came to kill people. It wasn’t targeting the army, as if you want to get them you bomb the front lines.

“Now I fear being here. The day that there was bombardment, all the reeds of of my fence collapsed around my house. Children were there. It was only God who could know if somebody was going to survive.

“I am scared of being in my home but I have nowhere else to go.

“There was a lot of fear when troops withdrew from Heglig. There a lot of military around here now [there is a barracks and airstrip a few kilometres away] and I’m scared that the enemy might come into the town, because they are not seeing enough soldiers in the front line.

“Most of my neighbours have already fled. Two households next to me, five opposite, and others even down the other side.”

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This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information: https://shop.un.org/rights-permissions

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