NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — The U.N. human rights chief warned Tuesday against the "alarming rise in hate speech and incitement to violence against certain ethnic groups" as fighting continues in South Sudan.
Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein called the "hateful rhetoric between Dinkas and Equatorians highly dangerous" and could lead to "mass atrocities if not reined in," spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said in Geneva.
Letters with warnings against ethnic Equatorians have been found outside the offices of several aid groups in Northern Bahr el Ghazal in the northwest, Shamdasani said.
Ethnic Dinka groups have warned Equatorians that they will be "eliminated," the spokeswoman said.
The threats came after an unknown number of Dinka were killed while traveling by bus to the capital, Juba, on Oct. 8, the U.N. said.
Tensions continue in South Sudan despite a 2015 peace deal to end a civil war in the world's youngest country.
Also Tuesday, a new report by Amnesty International described crimes committed by South Sudanese soldiers when clashes with the opposition in the capital, Juba, killed hundreds of people in July.
Atrocities continued even after the fighting stopped, the report said.
Soldiers raped and gang-raped more than 200 women on the basis of ethnicity over a one-week period after the clashes ended, according to Amnesty International, which called the pattern of sexual violence "systemic."
The report said the "pillage and destruction was so enormous that it could not have been done without, at a minimum, a large degree of command acquiescence."
Opposition fighters also put thousands of civilians in danger, Amnesty International said, entering U.N. civilian protection sites during clashes, potentially in an attempt to use people as human shields.
"There is good reason to believe that senior officials responsible for the key decisions behind the abuses will never be brought to justice," the report said.