Rebels drive S. Sudan government forces out of parts of Bor

Jan. 1, 2014 at 7:52 AM
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BOR, South Sudan, Jan. 1 (UPI) -- Rebels pursued their attack on the South Sudanese city of Bor Wednesday as delegates began arriving in neighboring Ethiopia to discuss ending the conflict.

President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar, Kiir's former deputy, sent delegations to Addis Ababa for negotiations brought about by Intergovernmental Authority on Development, an East African regional organization, Voice of America reported.

Ethiopian Information Minister Redwan Hussein said both sides were expected to arrive Wednesday but talks would begin Thursday, the New York Times reported. Neither Kiir nor rebel leader Riek Machar were expected to participate in the discussions.

Concerning the fighting in Bor, South Sudanese military spokesman Philip Aguer said Wednesday government troops "did a partial withdrawal" from Bor but were still fighting in the city's suburbs.

Bor Mayor Nhial Majak Nhial told the Times, "The government is in control of the southern parts of the city" and residents fled after rebel troops killed civilians.

The fighting began Dec. 15 after Kiir, who sacked Machar in July, accused his former deputy of attempting a coup, which Machar has denied. More than 1,000 people have been killed in clashes since and about 180,000 people have been displaced.

Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni threatened military action against the rebels if they didn't agree to a cease-fire.

The United States welcomed news of the talks and repeated its calls for an immediate end to the fighting. National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden said the United States would deny support to anyone trying to seize power and would "hold leaders responsible for the conduct of their forces and work to ensure accountability for atrocities and war crimes."

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