South Sudan army ‘ready to assault Bor’

The fighting has left hundreds dead and sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for protection in U.N. bases. (Reuters)

South Sudan troops are readying to assault the rebel-held town of Bor, the president said Monday, after the evacuation of foreign nationals from the capital of the powder keg eastern Jonglei state.

The army is “now ready to move to Bor,” President Salva Kiir told parliament, adding that the counter-attack to wrest back the town after it was captured on Wednesday was delayed until U.S. had airlifted citizens out.

Fighting has been raging in South Sudan for a week, after Kiir accused his former deputy Riek Machar of attempting a coup. Machar has denied this, and has accused Kiir of carrying out a vicious purge of his rivals.

The fighting has left hundreds dead and sent tens of thousands of people fleeing for protection in U.N. bases or to safer areas of the country, which only won independence from Sudan in 2011 but has been blighted by ethnic divisions, corruption and poverty.

The fighting has both ethnic and political dimensions, as troops loyal to Kiir, an ethnic Dinka, battle forces backing Machar, a Nuer.

Foreign governments, including those of the U.S., Britain, Uganda and Kenya, have been organizing special evacuation flights to pull out their nationals.

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday threatened that he will take further action in South Sudan if necessary after U.S. forces were attacked there, amid rising concern that the recently-established country could slide into civil war.

“As I monitor the situation in South Sudan, I may take further action to support the security of U.S. citizens, personnel and property, including our embassy, in South Sudan,” Obama wrote in a letter to Congress.

On Saturday four U.S. servicemen were wounded when their planes were fired at in a rebel-held area.

The attack underlined the increasingly dangerous situation in South Sudan, where at least one U.N. base has also come under attack in recent days -- with the deaths of two Indian peacekeepers and possibly dozens of civilians.

(With AFP and Reuters)

Last Update: Wednesday, 20 May 2020 KSA 09:42 - GMT 06:42