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Leader of South Sudan Urges People Not to Lose Hope

creisinger/Thinkstock(JUBA, South Sudan) -- South Sudan’s President Salva Kiir implored his people Wednesday not to “lose hope” even as fighting between government and rebel forces has reportedly caused thousands of fatalities.

With his nation seemingly on the verge of a civil war, Kiir used a Christmas address to also speak out against what are believed to be ethnically-motivated killings intended to help his regime.

Kiir said that rather than supporting his attempts to maintain order, “You are destroying me.”

U.S., African and European officials have all called for a cease fire so that Kiir and his rival, former Vice President Riek Machar, can hold talks.  However, Machar says he won’t go to the negotiating table until Kiir releases his allies from custody.

For now at least, momentum seems to be on Kiir’s side with his army retaking the volatile city of Bor where much of the fighting has taken place.  Last week, three U.S. helicopters came under fire during an evacuation of American citizens in Bor, leaving four troops injured.

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