South Sudan's 25,000-strong "White Army" disbands

10:40 PM, Dec 29, 2013   |    comments
A wounded soldier, background right, sits with colleagues in an outside courtyard at the Juba Military Hospital in Juba, South Sudan Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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JUBA, South Sudan - South Sudan's minister of information says that most of the 25,000-strong militia that had been marching toward a potentially vicious military confrontation has disbanded and returned home.

Michael Makuei Lueth told The Associated Press Sunday that Nuer community leaders in Jonglei state persuaded the "White Army" fighters to go home.

Lueth said only a "very few" refused to disband. He said an exact number was not known.

South Sudan has had two weeks of violence. The government accuses former Vice President Riek Machar, an ethnic Nuer, of a coup attempt against President Salva Kiir, a Dinka.

Lueth on Saturday told a news conference that more than 25,000 Lou Nuer youth were marching toward Bor.

The United Nations Sunday said it was "extremely concerned" and urged the fighters to return home.

Earlier in the crisis some 2,000 Lou Nuer armed fighters attacked a U.N. base in Akobo, also in Jonglei state, killing three U.N. troops and a reported two dozen or so ethnic Dinka inside the base.

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