Home / World

S. Sudan army set for offensive

By Agencies in JUBA, South Sudan and KAMPALA, Uganda | China Daily | Updated: 2013-12-24 07:16

Nation on brink of civil war despite UN call to halt violence

South Sudan's army said on Monday it was poised for a major offensive against rebel forces, as the country slid toward civil war despite international peace efforts.

Expectations of a major upsurge in fighting came as the United Nations warned that the situation in the world's youngest nation is fast unraveling, with hundreds of thousands of civilians now at risk.

Fighting has gripped South Sudan for more than a week, after President Salva Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar, who was fired from the government in July, of attempting a coup.

Machar denied the claim and accused Kiir of carrying out a vicious purge of his rivals. Vowing to oust Kiir, his forces have since seized the town of Bor, capital of the powder keg eastern Jonglei state and located just 200 kilometers north of Juba, as well as the town of Bentiu, capital of crucial oil-producing Unity state.

South Sudan army spokesman Philip Aguer said the government was on the offensive.

"Our soldiers will regain control of Bor town from the forces of the rebellion. The forces of Machar are still in control of the town, but we are ready to take back control," he said.

The comments came despite days of shuttle diplomacy by African nations and calls from the United States, the United Kingdom and the United Nations for the fighting to stop.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon on Sunday urged South Sudan's leaders "to do everything in their power" to stop the violence.

Foreign ministers from neighboring countries Kenya, Ethiopia, Uganda and Djibouti were in South Sudan earlier in the week to try and diffuse the crisis.

The UN's top humanitarian coordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, visited the besieged town of Bor on Sunday and said the situation was rapidly deteriorating.

"It would have been difficult one week ago to imagine that things would have unraveled to this extent," Lanzer said.

"There are hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese who've fled into the bush or back to their villages to get out of harm's way," he said.

Asked which areas of the conflict-torn country he was most concerned about, Lanzer said, "It would be quicker to talk about which areas I'm not worried about.

"I hope to be wrong, otherwise, hundreds of thousands will need help very soon," he said, adding he was "very concerned that a battle looms" in Bor, where he admitted that the UN peacekeepers were unlikely to be in a position to protect the estimated 15,000 civilians seeking shelter at the UN base there.

The clashes have left hundreds dead - possibly many more - and sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for protection at UN bases or to safer parts of the country, which only won independence from Sudan in 2011.

Bor is said to be the scene of some of the fiercest clashes between government troops and rebels.

Michael Makuei Lueth, South Sudan's information minister, said Machar was believed to be hiding somewhere in Unity state.


 S. Sudan army set for offensive

Zhou Yuchi, a police officer from Sichuan province working as a Chinese peacekeeper in South Sudan, patrols a UN base in Bor with Kenyan counterparts during the weekend as civilians rushed in to take shelter. Wu Qiang / for China Daily

S. Sudan army set for offensive

(China Daily 12/24/2013 page12)

Today's Top News

Editor's picks

Most Viewed

Copyright 1995 - . All rights reserved. The content (including but not limited to text, photo, multimedia information, etc) published in this site belongs to China Daily Information Co (CDIC). Without written authorization from CDIC, such content shall not be republished or used in any form. Note: Browsers with 1024*768 or higher resolution are suggested for this site.
License for publishing multimedia online 0108263

Registration Number: 130349