Juba: More than 300 people have been reported to be killed, including many civilians and a Chinese peacekeeper, in renewed fights in South Sudan’s capital Juba, raising fears that the country is returning to civil war.
The new clashes initially broke out on Thursday and Friday between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and the soldiers who support Vice-President Riek Machar and the fighting flared again on Sunday and Monday, reports the Guardian.
The UN Security Council has urged both sides to end fighting and called for more peacekeepers after a meeting on Sunday. The council’s 15 members demanded Kiir and Machar “genuinely commit themselves to the full and immediate implementation of the peace agreement, including the permanent ceasefire and redeployment of military forces from Juba”.
Though, observers say it is clear that the peace deal concluded last August between the two main factions in the country is only holding “by a thread”.
Britain’s deputy permanent representative, Peter Wilson, said before the meeting it was essential to “unequivocally condemn the violence happening in Juba”.
“We have called for an arms embargo, this situation underlines the need for that,” he added. France’s UN ambassador Francois Delattre and U.S. State Department spokesman John Kirby also voiced dismay. Ban Ki-moon, the United Nations secretary general, said earlier he was “shocked and appalled by the heavy fighting . in Juba” and called on Kiir and Machar to “do everything within their power to de-escalate the hostilities immediately”.
According to officials, Sunday’s Fighting also hit a UN camp for displaced people affected by the violence and aid workers have reported hearing heavy artillery as well as small-arms fire around Juba. The immediate cause of the violence was not clear on Sunday night.
An official in the main UN camp, described the situation as “really very bad”. The official said: “We have a lot of casualties this side. I think around 50 to 60 besides those of yesterday. We have civilian casualties. We have rocket-propelled grenades that have landed in the camp, which have wounded eight people.