Police in Jonglei State opened fire on protesting school children in Bor town this morning, wounding two.
Four police officers also sustained injuries, according to Atong Kuol, Jonglei state Minister of Information.
Students from Royal High and Primary Boarding and Day School staged a protest reportedly over poor teaching methods and poor boarding conditions.
The students -mostly teenagers –locked the gates on Wednesday morning and refused entry for teachers and fellow students from both Primary and high school sharing the same school compound.
The peaceful protest turned violent when the school children allegedly started throwing stones at the school buildings, prompting the authorities to call police on them.
In the process, two boys were wounded – with one shot in the thigh, and the other – on the foot.
“They started attacking the police by throwing stones at them, at that process, the protest became chaotic, so the police started shooting in the air, from there, a child who was 200 meters away from the scene got injured on the foot, and there was another guy who was shot on the thumb,” Ms Atong said.
But a local human rights group – Screen of Rights described the act as police brutality
“This is what I describe as police brutality and as well as any other security force brutality,” said Reech Malual, Executive Director.
“This is putting a highlight on Jonglei state because…a boy was shot in a few weeks [ago] and now again a student and another child have also become victims to systematic brutality.”
The activist called on the state to protect the rights of children, and hold the officers accountable for using arm to disperse the students.
However, officials say the officers were acting on orders after the students became rowdy.
Bor town Mayor said the riot police was only called to dismiss the students outside the compound and allow authorities to deal with those striking inside the compound, when the situation turned violent.
“Stones, rocks, bricks and pegs were thrown at the police, escalating the situation. As the mass of students advanced on the riot police, warning live-shots were fired in the air as they lack tear gas,” said Dr. Mach Majier.
He said the police was not aiming at the student, although stray bullets landed on their legs.
“A child aged 10 was injured on the right foot by a stray bullet over 200 meters away from the school. He is stable and being attended to at the hospital…a Royal High School student aged 21 was [also] accidentally shot on the right thigh and is being attended to as well,” he said.
Dr. Majier added that a police officer was seriously injured, while 3 others are in stable condition, noting that the “other riot policemen with minor injuries were attended to and released” from the hospital.
He believes the officers excercised caution because some of the riot policemen “have children going to this very school.”
The mayor blamed the rioting students for vandalizing and burning down structures within the school, even after the police retreated.
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