A senior British official says she believes the violence in South Sudan is now genocide that is being perpetrated along tribal lines.

Priti Patel, the U.K. secretary of state for international development, said in an interview late Wednesday that there are "massacres taking place, people's throats being slit."

She said there is a "scorched earth policy," with villages being burned down, women being raped, and food being used as a weapon of war.

She described the situation in South Sudan as "absolutely abhorrent and inhumane."

Patel visited South Sudan this week.

A U.N. report released last month said South Sudan is experiencing ethnic cleansing by mostly government forces. That report described the country as teetering on the edge of genocide.

South Sudan fell into civil war in December 2013.