New South Sudan Death Estimate 10 Times Higher

Meanwhile, rebels drop key ceasefire demand
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 10, 2014 9:55 AM CST
A small cross made of sticks and a religious blanket lie on top of the grave of a child wounded during recent fighting between government and rebel forces in South Sudan, Jan. 2, 2014.   (AP Photo/Ben Curtis)
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(Newser) – The three-week-long conflict in South Sudan has been a heck of a lot bloodier than previously believed, at least according to one group's estimate. Around 10,000 people have likely died in the conflict, the International Crisis Group said yesterday—a far cry from the 1,000 estimate that the UN's special representative for South Sudan gave two weeks ago, the New York Times reports. A UN official yesterday agreed that the actual number was "very substantially in excess of the 1,000 figure."

Prospects for a ceasefire may have brightened, however. Rebels today dropped their demand that the government release 11 political prisoners as a precondition for a ceasefire, the Wall Street Journal reports. "We don't think it is fair for our people on the ground to suffer because of the suffering of 11 people," said the son of one of the captives. A senior US State Department official had backed that demand yesterday, saying that the US "strongly believes" the prisoners should be freed. She also challenged President Salva Kiir's official story that a coup plot kicked off the conflict, saying they'd seen no evidence of such a plot. (Read more ceasefire stories.)

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