Fighting intensifies in S. Sudan as faction leaders sit at luxury hotel

Displaced people walk to find an unoccupied patch of ground where they can rest after arriving by river barge from Bor, some of the thousands who fled the recent fighting between government and rebel forces in Bor by boat across the White Nile, in the town of Awerial, South Sudan, Thursday, Jan. 2, 2014.  Ben Curtis/AP

Nairobi, Kenya  In a sign of worsening violence in South Sudan — and despite the opening of peace talks Friday in Addis Ababa — the US State Department said it is pulling more embassy staff from the capital Juba.

The “further drawdown” of embassy staff is due to the “deteriorating security situation” in South Sudan, where the UN says over a thousand people have been killed in fewer than three weeks of fighting between rebels and government forces.

On Friday, representatives of President Salva Kiir and rebel leader Riek Machar were staying at the same luxury hotel in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, but the delegations had not begun to negotiate directly and are reportedly still working through intermediaries.

Meanwhile, despite expectations last week of a truce, fighting in South Sudan continues as the two main groups try to seize territory and resources to improve bargaining positions.  Read more…

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