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South Sudan: 25,000-strong 'White Army' marches toward state capital; cease-fire hopes dim

Saturday - 12/28/2013, 5:00pm  ET

JUBA, South Sudan (AP) -- Government officials in South Sudan say 25,000 young men who make up a tribal militia known as the "White Army" are marching toward the contested city of Bor.

The news comes as hope fades for a cease-fire among South Sudan's warring parties. Leaders from across East Africa announced yesterday that the government had agreed to a "cessation of hostilities." But the former vice president (Riek Machar) who's accused of leading a coup attempt has rejected the cease-fire.

More fighting is expected. Bor is the provincial capital of Jonglei state. It briefly fell to rebels before government forces took it back this week. The estimated 25,000 youths marching on the city are from the same tribe as the former vice president. They are known as the "White Army" because of the white ash the fighters put on their skin as protection from insects.

Nearly two weeks of violence has killed an estimated 1,000 people in South Sudan. Tens of thousands are seeking shelters at United Nations camps.

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098-c-13-(Jason Straziuso (straz-YOO'-soh), AP correspondent)-"still hold control"-AP correspondent Jason Straziuso reports violence between South Sudan's warring factions goes on, despite attempts at a cease-fire. (28 Dec 2013)

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099-c-17-(Jason Straziuso (straz-YOO'-soh), AP correspondent)-"before next Tuesday"-AP correspondent Jason Straziuso reports a senior South Sudan official is calling for peace talks that he hopes will take place early next week. (28 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO ABC112: A patient is treated by a military doctor in a ward of mainly soldiers with gunshot wounds, during a visit by current Vice-President James Wani Igga, at the Juba Military Hospital in Juba, South Sudan Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. A spokesman for South Sudan's military says fighting continues in the oil-producing Unity state despite ongoing efforts by regional leaders to get both sides to agree to an immediate cease-fire. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (28 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO ABC101: A man with a gunshot wound in his leg is carried by stretcher from one ward to another inside the Juba Military Hospital in Juba, South Sudan Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. A spokesman for South Sudan's military says fighting continues in the oil-producing Unity state despite ongoing efforts by regional leaders to get both sides to agree to an immediate cease-fire. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (28 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO ABC102: A man walks in a ward of mainly soldiers with gunshot wounds inside the Juba Military Hospital in Juba, South Sudan Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. A spokesman for South Sudan's military says fighting continues in the oil-producing Unity state despite ongoing efforts by regional leaders to get both sides to agree to an immediate cease-fire. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (28 Dec 2013)

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APPHOTO ABC115: Atem Apieth, 6, who received a gunshot wound to his shoulder during the recent fighting in Bor and managed to travel for treatment to the capital by boat, sits on his hospital bed at the Juba Military Hospital in Juba, South Sudan Saturday, Dec. 28, 2013. A spokesman for South Sudan's military says fighting continues in the oil-producing Unity state despite ongoing efforts by regional leaders to get both sides to agree to an immediate cease-fire. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) (28 Dec 2013)

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