Week of violence in South Sudan kills 60
South Sudan’s military has warned about the surge of violence in the country, raising fears of a full-scale civil war.
“Fighting in South Sudan killed at least 60 people this week,” South Sudan’s army spokesman Brigadier General Lul Ruai Koang said on Friday.
“Armed men loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar killed 11 government soldiers and 28 civilians from Saturday to Thursday,” Koang said. “Twenty-one rebels were also killed.”
Koang also accused the rebels of “burning civilians, maiming women and child abductions and setting ablaze properties.”
A spokesman for the rebels was not immediately available for comment.
Koang’s remarks came after the United Nations’ peacekeeping mission in the country sounded the alarm over the deadly surge of violence across the country.
On October 10, the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) said it had received reports of “horrific attacks on civilians, including some who were burned to death.”
UNMISS on October 12 announced that the UN force was “extremely concerned over increased reports of violence and armed conflict in various parts of the country in the last few weeks.”
South Sudan descended into chaos in late 2013 after President Salva Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, accused his former vice president, Riek Machar, a Nuer, of plotting to take the helm.
As a result of distrust between the two figures, the world’s youngest nation, sank into civil war, just two years after its birth.
Subsequent fighting between the two sides often followed ethnic lines. Human rights groups have accused both sides of targeting civilians in the conflict.
Numerous internationally-mediated attempts for reconciliation between the conflicting sides have failed.
A peace pact in 2015 ended the fighting, but it has sporadically been violated.
In a major setback to the peace efforts, violent clashes erupted in the capital Juba on July 8 between Kiir’s guards and troops loyal to Machar.
The July clashes have pushed the number of refugees in the conflict-stricken country past the one-million mark, according to the United Nations.
In a further blow to the peace prospects, Machar last month called for “a popular armed resistance” against Kiir.
Machar has fled the country and is reportedly seeking medical treatment in South Africa.