At least 10 people have been killed in an attack on a Christian college in South Sudan.
Emmanuel Christian College (ECC) in Goli, Yei County was attacked on Monday, according to religious persecution watchdog Open Doors. Those killed included five children (one secondary and four primary school pupils), three guards, and a father and son who had sought refuge in the Goli region. The 14-year-old daughter of a college staff member was raped by the attackers, while the rest of the building's offices, classrooms and accommodation were vandalised and looted.
Though details remain scarce, witnesses are reportedly blaming the Sudan People's Liberation Army for the attack.
The college is a training institution that Open Doors established in partnership with the Sudan Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The college management is working with state authorities regarding the next steps.
'It is indeed a sad day when innocent people, including children, are attacked at a spiritual institution that is renowned internationally for advancing the gospel in an ethnically diverse setting,' said JP Pretorius, the regional director for Open Doors' work in sub-Saharan Africa.
'We extend our condolences to all affected by the loss of life and our sincerest empathy to those affected by rape, witnessing of violence and looting.'
He added: 'We call on the international Christian community to rally in prayer around staff at the ECC and the church in South Sudan. We also call on the international community to do whatever it can to help bring an end to the hostilities in South Sudan and on the South Sudan government to take swift action to bring the perpetrators to justice.'
Open Doors launched small scale theological training in South Sudan in 1996, at the height of the nation's civil war, and since then has trained thousands of Christian leaders in the country.