JUBA - South Sudan President Salva Kiir called for an end to wanton killings and tribal-based atrocities on Wednesday, as government troops clashed with rebels loyal to his former deputy in an oil-producing region of the country.
Western powers fear the violence could spiral out of control and lead to a civil war split along ethnic lines in the world's newest state, and the UN Security Council on Tuesday agreed to almost double the number of peacekeepers there.
"Innocent people have been wantonly killed. People are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation. This is unacceptable," Kiir said, according to an official Twitter account of South Sudan's government.
"These atrocities recurring by now have to cease immediately," Kiir added.
The violence erupted in the capital Juba on Dec. 15 and has quickly spread, dividing the landlocked country of 10.8 million along ethnic lines of Nuer and Dinka.