UK & World News

  • 18 December 2013, 7:10

South Sudan: Hundreds Killed In Army Clashes

Hundreds of people have been killed in clashes between rival army factions in South Sudan's capital.

UN peacekeeping chief Herve Ladsous added that another 800 people have been wounded in battles between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and an opposition leader.

Between 15,000 and 20,000 people have sought refuge in UN compounds around Juba since the troubles started on Sunday, according to officials.

The death toll is based on reports given by Juba hospitals but the UN has not yet confirmed the figure because of new clashes on Tuesday.

Security Council president Gerard Araud, France's UN ambassador, would not confirm the toll after the briefing by Mr Ladsous.

"There is a heavy toll, it is obvious," he said.

"There are dozens and scores of casualties, it is really not a minor incident."

Mr Araud added that fighting had also been reported outside of the capital in Pibor, in Jonglei state, which has a history of clashes between rival ethnic groups.

Juba remains "extremely tense" and it appeared the clashes were being carried out on ethnic lines, he told the 15-member council.

MrKiir has accused troops loyal to former vice president Riek Machar of staging a coup attempt in the impoverished nation.

The government said 10 key figures including ex-ministers have been arrested, but that MrMachar was on the run.

MrKiir is an ethnic Dinka while MrMachar is a Nuer.

UN leader Ban Ki-moon spoke with MrKiir on Tuesday and urged him to offer "dialogue" with the opposition. Mr Ban also spoke with the president of neighbouring Uganda, Yoweri Musseveni, about the unrest.

The Security Council meeting was called at the request of the US which has ordered non-essential diplomatic staff out of South Sudan.

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