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Mass graves found in South Sudan; UN boosts troops` presence

As the ethnic clashes intensified in the violence-torn nation of South Sudan, the United Nations Security Council voted to boost the presence of the UN peacekeeping force in the country by 80 per cent.

Zee Media Bureau

Juba: As the ethnic clashes intensified in the violence-torn nation of South Sudan, the United Nations Security Council voted to boost the presence of the UN peacekeeping force in the country by 80 per cent.

Condemning the killings and ethnic murders, the 15-member UNSC urged the nation to resolve the hostilities and passed a resolution authorising to bolster the presence of UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) from 7,000 to 12,500 troops temporarily, and the troops will be transferred from the UN missions in Congo, Darfur, Abyei, Ivory Coast and Liberia.

Also the international police contingent will be reinforced to reach 1300 in number.

The UNSC vote in New York came hours after UN investigators found two mass graves in Bentiu town of the rebel-captured state of Unity.

Earlier, the UN had said 75 bodies were seen, but later it said that a total of 34 bodies were seen in the two graves and that 75 were missing and feared dead.

The mass graves were also found near the UN base in Juba, where over 20000 people are said to have taken refuge, UN human rights chief Navi Pillay said.

The death toll in teh conflict is feared to have reached thousands, said a UN official.

There is "absolutely no doubt in my mind that we`re into the thousands" of dead, said the UN humanitarian chief in the country, Toby Lanzer according to a report.

A total of 45,000 people are said to have taken shelter in UN bases across the strife-torn country and over 81,000 people have been displaced due to the violence, said the UN humanitarian office.

Meanwhile the government of South Sudan said on Twitter that it had taken back the control of town of Bor which was last week captured by the rebel forces loyal to Reik Machar.

However, the state of Bentiu, where the mass graves were found, were still in the control of Reik Machar loyalists, said the government, signalling that the former Vice President was responsible for the killings.

Speaking to the people on Christmas eve, Kiir said that "innocent people have been wantonly killed".

"There are now people who are targeting others because of their tribal affiliation.... It will only lead to one thing and that is to turn this new nation into chaos," he added.

UN human rights office spokeswoman Ravina Shamdasani said that those found dead in Bentiu were from Dinka tribe of President Salva Kiir and belonged to the Sudan People`s Liberation Army.

The clashes that were sparked on Dec 15 and started as a tiff between Kiir`s presidential guards, went on to escalate as an ethnic hostility pitting the Dinka tribe against the Neur tribe (that of ex-VP Reik Machar).
Although the Government of South Sudan has offered to negotiate with Reik Machar but said that anyone accused of coup will not be released.

Reik machar on the other hand told an international radio that he will form a high-level delegation to negotiate with kiir but he wanted the president to quit.

"We want democratic, free and fair elections. We want Salva Kiir to call it a day," Machar said, listing his demands.

Also, reports said that US Secretary of State John Kerry called up Machar who told him that he was ready for talks with Kiir, likely to take place in Ethiopia.

Repeating his call for the warring parties to resolve the situation, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said there was no military solution to the crisis which was political in nature and deserved a “peaceful political solution”.

"Whatever the differences, nothing can justify the violence that has engulfed their young nation," said Ban.

From Zee News

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