Juba - Major Western nations are "deeply disturbed" about the abuse and killing of civilians and the looting of property in South Sudan's troubled Jonglei state, and call for a "political and not a military solution" to the fighting between rebels and the army, a statement by diplomats said on Saturday.
"Increasingly concerned about continued violence in Jonglei," said the signatories representing the United States, the European Union, Britain, Canada, Denmark, Norway, the Netherlands and Switzerland.
They joined calls to armed groups and the army to protect civilians and property following the recent looting of international aid agencies, homes and public property in Pibor County.
"We are deeply disturbed by mounting reports of abuse of civilians, including killings, beatings, and looting and destruction of homes and humanitarian facilities," the statement said.
"We stress that the worsening situation in Jonglei State requires a political and not a military solution, and we underscore the need for dialogue between all parties to begin at once," it added.
South Sudan split peacefully from Sudan in July 2011 after decades of bitter civil war that killed an estimated two million people.
But six months later, the new nation's Jonglei state was engulfed in violence as several thousand Lou Nuer attackers marched on Pibor County, vowing to wipe out their rivals, the Murle, in a worrying mutation of age-old cattle-raiding to revenge killing spree.
A state-wide disarmament campaign followed massacres that are said to have killed between 600 and 3 000 people.