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UN says thousands brutally killed and abused in South Sudan; government vilifying mission

The U.N. peacekeeping chief says politically fueled ethnic violence in South Sudan since mid-December has led to the brutal killing and abuse of thousands of civilians and sparked a government campaign to vilify the United Nations and harass U.N. personnel.

Herve Ladsous told the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday that despite a Jan. 23 cease-fire agreement, forces loyal to President Salva Kiir and rebel soldiers loyal to former vice president Riek Machar "continue to prioritize the pursuit of military gains over talks towards a comprehensive political settlement."

Ladsous said the anti-U.N. campaign has brought the delivery of desperately needed humanitarian aid "almost to a standstill," and he urged the council to condemn the "unacceptable vilification" of the U.N. and demand that Kiir condemn it and order a halt to it.