by Jessica Onah
The UN has condemned an attack in South Sudan where hundreds were killed because of their ethnicity.
According to a statement by the mission, fights broke out last December in the country which is one of the poorest in Africa between the Nuer and Dinka group.
The army was forced out of the oil rich Bentiu region last week after rebel forces took control.
The UN mission in South Sudan added that on Monday, hundreds of civilians were massacred at a mosque, a church and a hospital.
Toby Lanzer, the UN’s top humanitarian official in South Sudan, was in Bentiu on Sunday and Monday. He said in Twitter posts late on Sunday that there were shocking scenes of atrocities, with “bodies of people executed” lying in Bentiu’s streets.
Thousands of people in South Sudan have been killed in violence and more than 1 million people have been forced to leave their homes since December when troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and those loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar began to fight along ethnic lines.
“It is hard to believe that just a few months ago South Sudan was at peace,” Lanzer said.
“People are on the brink of disaster. It is imperative the leaders recognise the crisis into which they have plunged their nation.”
A shocking hate speech was broadcast on local radio stations, saying certain groups should leave the town and urging men to rape women.
He told the BBC’s Focus on Africa programme that the scenes in Bentiu were “perhaps the most shocking set of circumstances” he had ever faced.
Fighting broke out last year after Mr Kiir accused Mr Machar of plotting to stage a coup.
Mr Machar, who was sacked as vice-president last year, denied the charges but launched a rebellion.
The Nuer community are seen as supporters of rebel leader Riek Machar. President Salva Kiir is a member of the country’s largest group, the Dinka.
The UN has about 8,500 peacekeepers in South Sudan, which became the world newest state after seceding from Sudan in 2011.