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Why newest nation could become the bloodiest

April 23rd, 2014
02:42 PM ET

By Mick Krever, CNN

Fears of all-out civil war in the world’s newest country, South Sudan, are at an all-time high a week after rebels slaughtered at least 400 people in the town of Bentiu.

“This is the newest country in the world, and it threatens to become one of the bloodiest countries in the world,” David Miliband, president of the International Rescue Committee, told CNN’s Paula Newton on Wednesday.

A scant three years ago, the country was full of jubilation as it celebrated its independence from Sudan after an internationally brokered referendum.

That changed last year, when the president of South Sudan, Salva Kiir, accused his former vice president of planning a coup; Riek Machar is now the president’s nemesis and a rebel leader.

Conflict between rival groups broke out in December, as a political power struggle erupted into violence. More than a million have fled their homes in what was already, one of the world's poorest nations.

“It’s large-scale, it’s random, and it is afflicting the whole country,” Miliband said. “The danger of genocidal killings is very real.”

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