White Army in South Sudan - Conflicts Subside


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South Sudan troops are under attack from the ethnic Nuer fighting force known as the "White Army" militia allied with other rebels creating confusion and death in this conflict that began two weeks ago.

The "White Army" militia was so named because they use ash from burnt cow dung to cover their faces and bodies.

"Shootings have taken place just outside, to the north of Bor," Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA) spokesman Philip Aguer said by phone from Juba, 190 km (120 miles) south of Bor. Earlier Aguer told Reuters there was fighting in the town.

Government troops in Bor have been preparing for this extremely feared group, the White Army militia, who was involved in a 1991 massacre of ethnic Dinkas, also in Bor.

Just these two weeks of fighting has already killed some 1,000 people, and forced nearly 121,000 people from their homes raising panic and fear of an ethnic based civil war.

"We anticipate a full-scale attack soon. The SPLA forces in Bor town are on maximum alert," Aguer added. The rebels were pushed out of Bor on December 24 after days of fierce clashes.

CNN, meanwhile, quoted another government official as saying that she had been negotiating with leaders of the White Army, trying to persuade the force to stop its advance.

The conflict broke out due to allies of President Salva Kiir who are against Riek Machar. Kiir sacked Machar as vice president in July. Their ethnic backgrounds are a big part of this civil unrest... Kiir is an ethnic Dinka, and Machar comes from the Nuer tribe, where the White Army fighters were drawn.

South Sudan only gained its independence from Sudan in 2011. The new country is mostly dependent on foreign aid, even though substantial oil reserves in the northern regions should support them.

Makuei told Reuters on Sunday the White Army militia had dwindled in numbers - from estimated 25,000 strong - after Nuer politicians and tribal elders persuaded them to abandon their march on Bor.

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