(AANA) A Sudanese Air Force Antonov plane on 5 March flew four sorties over the rebel-held town of Yei in the Western Equatorial region of southern Sudan, dropping 13 bombs.
Five of the bombs hit the town's hospital complex, killing a medical assistant and 10 patients, some of whom had taken shelter in the hospitals air raid bunker. Forty-eight other people were wounded in the attack. One bomb fell on the hospitals operating theatre, destroying it completely.
The hospital, consisting of 30 buildings, is the largest complex into the town. It was renovated and reequipped in 1997. The hospital served residents of the town and many patients coming from hundreds of miles away. The raid has brought its services to a standstill.
An official of the Norwegian People's Aid who run the hospital told the BBC that he believed that the hospital had been deliberately targeted. He said that this had not been the first attempt to destroy it. There had been a similar raid targeting the hospital on 15th February, in which five people, including a nurse, were killed.
The hospital complex, he said, was known to the Sudanese government, because it had been a government hospital until the town was captured by the Sudan Liberation Army (SPLA) rebels in March 1997. It was not the only hospital to suffer attack from the Sudanese Air Force, two other hospitals in the rebel held towns of Lobone and Chukudum in Eastern Equatorial, had also been raided. The Rt Revd Joseph Marona, the interim chairman of the New Sudan Council of Churches (NSCC) and the Bishop of Maridi Diocese in Southern Sudan, has described the Yei incident as horrible and inhuman. "This has brought great fear to the people as most of the victims are children and women," the bishop said.
"The church must speak against what has happened because the civilians are being targeted, which is against human rights by the government of Sudan." Meanwhile, a World Food Programme spokeswoman, Christine Bethnaume, said in Geneva that 350,000 people in southern Sudan now face starvation. They include 150,000 displaced by the fighting in and around the towns of Wau, Gogrial and Aweil. Many of them have no access to food other than wild fruits. Insecurity brought about by the fighting has made it impossible for these people to cultivate crops. Their only hope now lies in receiving international aid, she said.