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Over 70 Civilians have been killed in South Sudan Ethnic clash

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At least 72 civilians have been killed in seven weeks in South Sudan, with some beheaded and burned alive, as ethnic clashes erupt in the oil-rich region.

The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) in South Sudan says reports indicate that bloodshed between February 17 and April 7 in Leer district of Unity state has forced 40,000 people to flee their homes, with UN investigators saying. The United Nations says 64 cases of violence against women have been reported.

In a statement, the two women told a UN delegation that they had been repeatedly raped by armed youths as they came out of their huts to search for food for their children.

One woman who gave birth recently said she also suffered from the same condition and was beaten for three days.

The crisis has sparked fears in the war-torn country, two years after independence from Sudan.

Clashes between forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and his deputy Riek Machar have killed nearly 400,000 people before the two sides agreed to lay down their arms in 2018.

But the country of 11 million people has struggled to regain peace in the coming years, despite lawlessness and ethnic violence.