UN scrambles to send more peacekeepers to South Sudan amid uptick in fighting
With revenge and ethnically motivated attacks escalating, South Sudan risks turning into a failed state, experts say.
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With the world’s newest country slipping further into violent chaos, the United Nations sought to bolster peacekeeping forces in South Sudan as the United States and other nations tried to evacuate foreign citizens.
The violence broke out earlier this week when a military commander defected, sparking a rebellion in Bor, a town north of the capital of Juba. Experts, however, said tensions had already been running high between ethnic Dinkas and Nuers, due to a decision by President Salva Kiir, a Dinka, to fire Vice President Riek Machar over the summer. Mr. Machar, a Nuer, has become the rallying point of an anti-government rebellion.
With growing reports of reprisal and ethnically motivated attacks, the violence threatens to escalate into full-scale civil war. Witnesses on the ground said that government security forces had executed dozens of ethnic Nuers in a region north of Juba, BBC reports.
An estimated 100,000 people have been forced to flee parts of the country as rebels have seized major towns, including some areas in the critical oil-producing region in the north. A spokesman for the South Sudanese military, Phillip Aguer, told CNN that Bentiu, the capital of the oil state Unity, was under rebel control.
Revenues from oil exports are crucial to impoverished South Sudan, as the country struggles to build a coherent, functioning state two years after declaring independence from Sudan.