News / Africa

South Sudan Accuses Rebels of Mobilizing 'White Army'

Bodies appearing to be those of rebel-soldiers allied to former vice president Riek Machar beside wrecked military vehicle, Bor, Dec. 28, 2013.Bodies appearing to be those of rebel-soldiers allied to former vice president Riek Machar beside wrecked military vehicle, Bor, Dec. 28, 2013.
x
Bodies appearing to be those of rebel-soldiers allied to former vice president Riek Machar beside wrecked military vehicle, Bor, Dec. 28, 2013.
Bodies appearing to be those of rebel-soldiers allied to former vice president Riek Machar beside wrecked military vehicle, Bor, Dec. 28, 2013.
Reuters
South Sudan accused rebels on Sunday of mobilizing a feared ethnic militia for new attacks despite a government offer of a truce to end two weeks of conflict in the young state.

A 25,000-strong force of the “White Army” - made up largely of ethnic Nuer youths who dust their bodies with ash - was marching on the town of Bor, recaptured by loyalist forces last Tuesday, an army spokesman said.

“We are prepared to engage them,” Sudan People's Liberation Army spokesman Philip Aguer said by phone from South Sudan's capital, Juba, 190 km (120 miles) south of Bor by road.

Fighting has left at least 1,000 dead and split the east African country barely two years after it won independence from Sudan. It has also raised fears of an all-out civil war between the main Dinka and Nuer ethnic groups which could destabilize the fragile region.

The White Army rebels, loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar, were likely to clash with President Salva Kiir's troops near Bor within the next day, the army spokesman said.

Machar made no immediate comment on the rebel force or on the government's offer of a ceasefire on Friday.

Witnesses spoke of panicked civilians fleeing Bor to escape another round of bloodletting.

The scene of a massacre of Kiir's Dinka ethnic group in 1991 by Nuer fighters loyal to Machar, Bor was retaken by government troops after several days of heavy fighting.

The White Army are recognized by the ash, prepared from burnt cow dung, with which they cover themselves to ward off insects. They are armed with machetes and sticks as well as guns.

“They are a wildcard whose intervention in the theater of conflict outside Bor could ratchet up the conflict even further and also put at even greater risk the lives of innocent civilians,” Joe Contreras, a spokesman for the U.N. mission in Sudan, told the BBC.

The army said rebels were also mobilizing youths and armed civilians for another attack on Malakal, the capital of the oil-producing Upper Nile state. Rebels were pushed out of the town on Friday.

Among the civilians trying to escape Bor, capital of Jonglei State, was Juuk Mading.

“We are very scared,” Mading, a father of four, said from a crowded river jetty as he waited in the fierce heat for a boat to cross the White Nile river to a neighboring state.

A Reuters cameraman who visited Bor on Dec. 25, a day after the rebels were pushed out, said burnt corpses lay in the streets. Traumatized civilians spoke of mass killings by marauding youths.

As well as offering a truce, President Kiir's government said it would release eight of 11 senior politicians, widely seen to be Machar allies, arrested over an alleged coup plot against Kiir.

Defense Minister Kuol Manyang Juuk told Reuters politicians in Juba were speaking to the White Army members to tell them that this is not an ethnic-based conflict and to convince them to abandon their march on Bor.

You May Like

Myanmar Fighting Poses Dilemma for China

To gain some insight into conflict, VOA’s Steve Herman spoke with Min Zaw Oo, director of ceasefire negotiation and implementation at Myanmar Peace Center More

Australia Concerned Over Islamic State 'Brides'

Canberra believes there are between 30 and 40 Australian women who have taken part in terror attacks or are supporting the Islamic State terror network More

Recreational Marijuana Use Now Legal in Washington, DC

Law allows adults 21 and over to privately possess and smoke 0.05 kilogram of pot, and to grow small amounts of the plant More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Casei
X
Katherine Gypson
February 25, 2015 11:30 PM
The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video US Supreme Court Hears Hijab Discrimination Case

The U.S. Supreme Court has heard opening arguments in a workplace religious discrimination case that examines whether a clothing store can refuse to hire a young woman for wearing the headscarf she says is a symbol of her Muslim faith. Katherine Gypson reports from the Supreme Court.
Video

Video Falling Gas Prices Hurt Nascent Illinois Hydraulic Fracturing Industry

Falling oil prices are helping consumers purchase cheaper petroleum at the pump. But that’s made hydraulic fracturing or “fracking” less economically viable for the companies in the United States invested in the process. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports on one Midwestern town that was hoping to change its fortunes by cashing in on the next big U.S. oil boom.
Video

Video Fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan Fuels Mass Displacement

Heavy fighting in Sudan's South Kordofan state is causing hundreds of thousands to flee into uncertain conditions. Local aid organizations estimate as many as 400,000 civilians have been internally displaced since the conflict began more than three years ago, while another 250,000 have fled across the border to refugee camps in South Sudan. VOA's Adam Bailes reports.
Video

Video Lao Dam Project Runs Into Opposition

A Lao dam project on a section of the Mekong River is drawing opposition from local fishermen, international environmental groups and neighboring countries. VOA's Say Mony visited the region to investigate the concerns. Colin Lovett narrates.
Video

Video A Filmmaker Discovers Her Biracial Identity in "Little White Lie

Lacey Schwartz grew up in an upper middle-class Jewish family, in a town in upstate New York where almost everyone she knew was white. She assumed that she was, as well. Her recent documentary, Little White Lie, tells the story of how she uncovered the secret of her true racial background. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more on the film.
Video

Video Deep Under Antarctic Ice Sheet, Life!

With the end of summer in the Southern hemisphere, the Antarctic research season is over. Scientists from Northern Illinois University are back in their laboratory after a 3-month expedition on the Ross Ice Shelf, the world’s largest floating ice sheet. As VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports, they hope to find clues to explain the dynamics of the rapidly melting ice and its impact on sea level rise.
Video

Video US-Cuba Normalization Talks Resume Friday

Negotiations aimed at normalizing diplomatic relations between the U.S. and Cuba resume Friday. On the table: lifting a half-century trade embargo and easing banking and travel restrictions. There's opposition in Congress, but some analysts say there may be sufficient political and economic incentives in both nations for a potential breakthrough this year. VOA's Mil Arcega reports.
Video

Video Pakistan's Deadline For SIM Registration Has Cellphone Users Scrambling

Pakistani cell phone users have until midnight Thursday to register their SIM cards, or their service will be cut off. While some privacy experts worry about government intrusion, many Pakistanis are just worried about keeping their phone lines open. VOA Deewa reporter Arshad Muhmand has more from Peshawar.
Video

Video Myanmar Warns Factory Workers to End Strikes

Outside Myanmar's main city Yangon, thousands of workers walked off their jobs earlier this month demanding a doubling of their wages, pay raises after a year and input from labor unions on industrial regulations. Since Friday, the standoff has grown more tense as police moved in to disrupt the sit-ins, resulting in clashes that injured people from both sides. VOA correspondent Steve Herman visited industrial zones which have become a focus of Myanmar's fledgling workers rights movement.
Video

Video Oscar Winners Do More Than Thank the Academy

The Academy Awards presentation is Hollywood’s night to reward the best movies from the previous year. It’s typically a lot of glitter, a lot of thank you’s, a lot of speeches. But many of this year’s speeches carried messages beyond the thank you's. VOA’s Carolyn Presutti takes a look.

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More