U.N. says civilians targeted in South Sudan violence

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UNITED NATIONS -- The United Nations says in its first report on human rights abuses during the conflict in South Sudan that civilians bore the brunt of ethnic violence that likely killed thousands.

The report says thousands more were subjected to rape, arbitrary arrest, torture and the looting and burning of their homes.

The U.N. peacekeeping mission in South Sudan said Friday's interim report covering the first six weeks of the crisis offers a "snapshot" of the violence perpetrated by forces loyal to President Salva Kiir, who is an ethnic Dinka, and rebel soldiers loyal to dismissed former vice president Riek Machar, who is an ethnic Nuer.

During more than 500 interviews, it said, "witnesses, victims and government and security officials reported the deliberate targeting of civilians, both nationals and foreigners" in killings and other abuses.

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