An increasing number of deaths and displaced persons are stemming from clashes involving government-backed militias and government forces in the Shilluk Kingdom region of southern Sudan. On 11 March, militias and government forces from Malakal attacked villages west of Awajwok (including the village of the Shilluk king). The militias were then reinforced by government forces in gunboats on the River Nile for an attack on Nyilwak, where they set a large number of civilians to flight.
No one knows yet why Shilluk forces are attacking their own people, although personal enrichment has been suspected of being a key factor. Khartoum is determined to control areas along the White Nile still controlled by the Sudan People's Liberation Movement-United (SPLM/U), which realigned with the SPLM/Army (SPLM/A) in October 2003. - Adam Geibel