South Sudan On Red Alert!
One hundred-twenty U.S. diplomats and others have left South Sudan as violence engulfed the African country.
Two US aircraft picked up employees from the US Embassy in the capital of Juba along with foreign diplomats and some U.S. citizens, and flew them to Kenya.
The State Department said an additional group of Americans and third-country nationals was evacuated in a private charter.
In addition, the U.S. government urged all Americans to leave South Sudan and helped arrange transportation for them.
Civil War May Rage In South Sudan
Earlier this week, South Sudan’s military lost control of a key town in the country’s east, to army mutineers.
The army lost Bor, the capital of Jonglei state, to a military faction associated with former Vice President Riek Machar, who denied any coup attempt. The former leader claimed that Kiir is inciting ethnic tensions instead.
Jonglei state has been plagued with ethnic tension between the Nuer and Murle tribes in recent years with recurrent attacks and massacres of civilians.
Reports say the clashes between the country’s army and army mutineers have killed some 500 people, mainly soldiers.
US Deeply Troubled By Recent Violence In South Sudan
In a press statement in Washington DC, Deputy Spokesperson Marie Harf expressed deep concern by the recent violence erupting in South Sudan.
“We call on the country’s political leaders to refrain from any action that could escalate an already tense situation or fuel the violence.” – Ms. Harf
She underlined that it is critical that political differences be resolved by peaceful and democratic means.
Ms. Harf also urged U.S. citizens to depart South Sudan and pledged transportation arrangements, taking into account security conditions and the availability of regular commercial flights.
“The Department of State expresses our sincere gratitude to Department of Defense colleagues for their critical assistance.” – Ms. Harf
Jonglei state has been blighted by a series of reprisal attacks between the two communities, which have a history of animosity over grazing land, water sources and cattle raids during which women and children are often abducted.
In December 2011, an outbreak of inter-ethnic violence earlier left more than 40 people dead, most of them women, children and the elderly.