Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.


South Sudan president fires army chief, top generals

24 April 2014, 07:38

Juba - South Sudan's President Salva Kiir sacked his army chief on Wednesday after rebels seized a major oil hub, unleashing two days of ethnic slaughter in which the UN says hundreds of civilians were massacred.

Rebels loyal to sacked vice president Riek Machar seized Bentiu last week. The UN says they hunted down civilians sheltering in mosques, churches and a hospital, in a wave of ethnic killings.

The president gave no reason for removing General James Hoth Mai, a move announced on national television, but sources attributed the decision to recent military setbacks in the oil-rich north of the country. His successor was named as Gen Paul Malong.

Kiir also sacked his intelligence chief, Gen Paul Mach, replacing him with Gen Marial Nour Jok.

South Sudan's army has been fighting the rebels since unrest broke out on 15 December, but the conflict has taken on an ethnic dimension, pitting Kiir's Dinka tribe against militia forces from Machar's Nuer people.

Oil fields

The conflict in South Sudan, which only won independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world's youngest nation, has left thousands dead and forced around a million people to flee their homes.

The insurgents recently launched a renewed offensive targeting the key oil fields and Bentiu is the first major settlement they have retaken.

The White House expressed horror at what it called the "abomination" of spiralling violence in the country, which has left thousands of people dead and forced around a million to flee their homes.

"We are horrified by reports out of South Sudan that fighters aligned with rebel leader Riek Machar massacred hundreds of innocent civilians last week in Bentiu," White House spokesperson Jay Carney said.

"These acts of violence are an abomination. They are a betrayal of the trust the South Sudanese people have put in their leaders," he said.

The White House called on both men to "make clear that attacks on civilians are unacceptable, perpetrators of violence on both sides must be brought to justice, and the cycle of violence that has plagued South Sudan for too long must come to an end".

Images released by the UN show piles of bloated, decomposing bodies strewn in several areas - a repeat of mass killings seen elsewhere in the country over the past four months.

Hate radio broadcasts

The UN said the killings continued for almost two days after the rebels issued a statement boasting of victory in Bentiu, and that the rebels had used hate radio broadcasts to whip up violent ethnic sentiment.

On Wednesday, the US and France called on the UN Security Council to consider sanctions against South Sudan.

US ambassador Samantha Power relayed Washington's position in a closed-door meeting of the 15-member Council, diplomats said, and France's Gerard Araud told reporters before the session that it was time to think about sanctions against those responsible.

"I think we should consider sanctions because it is horrendous," he said.

The rebels, however, have blamed retreating government troops for the atrocities.

"The government forces and their allies committed these heinous crimes while retreating," said rebel representative Lul Ruai Koang, adding that the rebel offensive targeting oil fields and the town of Bor, situated north of the capital Juba, was continuing.

The scale of killings in Bentiu is one of the worst atrocities in the four-month conflict, during which both sides have been implicated in massacres, rape and the recruitment of child soldiers.


Last week gunmen in the government-held town of Bor also attacked a UN base sheltering civilians, killing at least 58 people.

"The Bor and Bentiu attacks should be a wake-up call and commanders and leaders responsible for abuses on both sides have been let off the hook for too long," said Daniel Bekele, Africa director at Human Rights Watch.

Heavy fighting was also reported on Tuesday in the eastern state of Jonglei, and in Upper Nile in the northeast, with South Sudan army spokesperson Philip Aguer boasting the army had repulsed the attacks and killed scores of rebels.

In Bentiu, some 23 000 terrified civilians have crowded into the cramped UN peacekeeping base for protection, where under both fierce heat and heavy rains - and little if any shelter - they are surviving on just a litre of water a day each.

Jonathan Veitch, the UN children's agency chief in the country, warned of fatal water-borne diseases, saying that "children have endured unspeakable violence".

The UN has said more than one million people are at risk of famine.

On Tuesday, 22 international aid agencies, including Oxfam, Care and the International Rescue Committee, issued a joint warning they were already witnessing "alarming rates of malnutrition".

Peace talks between the two sides are due to restart in neighbouring Ethiopia later this month.



Read News24’s Comments Policy

Comment on this story
Comments have been closed for this article.

Read more from our Users

Nigeria @ 56: Words to my green f...

A leader’s job is not to dictate, but rather to be respected, admired and be a trustee, of the land we love, with so much potential, a land which should be freer than free. Its still a long way to fufilling our destiny! Read more...

Submitted by
Isaac Asabor263
Recession: An opportunity for Nig...

The recession should be seen as an opportunity for the country’s promotion as long as we all collectively conduct ourselves in a patriotic manner, writes Isaac Asabor.  Read more...

Submitted by
Black and White

We want to imitate the whites in everything because we are ignorant of our inherent originality and content. We spend all our Naira to acquire his inventions because we so oblivious of our natural endowments that we allow him have it for free. Read more...

Submitted by
Nate Nat
Adamawa State University Mubi: A ...

ADSU integrity forum has accused the Sunday Joshua Wugira, a lawyer, of adopting unorthodox tactics by abusing his privilege by attacking the integrity of ADSU Vice Chancellor Dr. Moses Zira Zaruwa, writes a News24 reader. Read more...

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
My Country Nigeria (Part One)

Poetry by Abdulsalam Jubril.

Submitted by
Abdulsalam Jubril
Recession, dearth in leadership a...

Every leader has the opportunity to become great and making himself immortal in the lives and hearts of people for generations to come. Will Mr. President seize this opportunity?, questions Abdulsalam Jubril. Read more...