Earlier this week, reports of a massive grave in South Sudan hit the news waves, in an area that is already on the tip of a civil war. But the United Nations mission in South Sudan has denied a report of a mass grave that was issued by the office of a U.N. Commissioner for Human Rights. The Berlin office of Navi Pillay originally reported on Tuesday that a grave of 75 bodies was found in Bentiu, Unity State. Later the office revised that figure to 34 bodies and 75 people feared missing.
Late last night, The U.N. mission in South Sudan called the report erroneous and was an inflation of a “skirmish” where 15 people were killed.
Ethiopia Foreign Minister Tedros Adhanom told The Associated Press that the leaders of six East African countries will travel to South Sudan Thursday to try to advance peace talks and end 10 days of violence.
The U.S has continued evacuation procedures to remove Americans from the region to ensure their safety.
About 150 U.S. Marines flew from Spain to Djibouti, hundreds of miles to the east, to prepare for possible participation in helping evacuate Americans.
A U.S. defense official said 50 of the Marines moved closer to South Sudan by going to Entebbe in Uganda, CNN Pentagon Correspondent Barbara Starr reported Tuesday.
In a statement, the U.S. military’s Africa Command said Monday it was positioning the Marines to be able to respond should conditions deteriorate even more. The decision grew out of the U.S. experience in Benghazi, Libya, where an attack last year killed U.S. Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans. No U.S. forces were close enough to respond quickly.
“One of the lessons learned from the tragic events in Benghazi was that we needed to be better postured, in order to respond to developing or crisis situations, if needed. These precautionary movements will allow us to do just that,” the command said in its statement.
According to a senior administration official, 380 Americans and about another 300 third-country nationals have been evacuated.
“Based on registration, there are American citizens in other towns and areas throughout South Sudan. We are trying to track down how many may still be there. Many may have gotten out on their own. We are trying to track that down,” the official said.
Sudan suffered a 22-year civil war that left more than a million people dead before the South became independent in 2011.