US Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called on South Sudan’s leaders to rein in armed groups under their control, immediately cease attacks on civilians, and end the chain of retributive violence between different ethnic and political groups.
Kerry's comments came a day after at least 11 people from the ethnic Dinka group were killed during an attack by thousands of armed youths from another ethnic group on a UN peacekeeping base in Jonglei state. Two Indian peacekeepers died.
"Last night, I called South Sudanese President [Salva] Kiir and urged him, as president of all of South Sudan, to protect all South Sudanese citizens and work toward reconciliation," Kerry stated.
The US secretary of state said that he was dispatching US Special Envoy for Sudan and South Sudan, Ambassador Donald Booth, to travel to the region and support efforts to prevent the almost week-long conflict from plunging the world's newest nation into an ethnic civil war.
Kiir, a member of the Dinka ethnic group, has accused his former vice president Riek Machar, a Nuer who was sacked in July, of attempting to seize power by force. Fighting that began on Sunday in the capital Juba has swiftly spread, and UN staff have reported hundreds killed.