- Ethnic dimensions of the conflict are deepening as fighters engage in reprisal attacks
- Fierce fighting continues, and the United Nations has warned of the risk of famine and genocide
Civil war in South Sudan is spiralling into cycles of revenge far from the control of political leaders, Amnesty International warned Thursday, as pressure builds on commanders to stem the brutal conflict.
"The ethnic dimensions of the conflict are deepening as fighters engage in reprisal attacks, continuously escalating the cycle of violence," Amnesty said in a report, documenting scores of grim testimonies of war crimes in the world's youngest nation.
"The longer ethnic rivalries are allowed to deepen and fester, the more fragmented South Sudan will become, making reconciliation and sustainable peace much more difficult to achieve," it added.
Researchers said they had documented "dozens of mass graves", including five in the war-ravaged town of Bor containing over 500 bodies.
"Horrific atrocities" have been committed by all sides "constituting war crimes and crimes against humanity," the report said.
"Habitual impunity for human rights violations, including international crimes, is a central factor behind repeated cycles of violence," Amnesty said, adding that both sides had "shown total disregard" for the most basic of human rights.