Mobile  |  About us  |  Photos  |  Videos  |  Subscriptions  |  RSS Feeds  |  Today's Paper  |  Classifieds  |  Contact Us
The Daily Star
SATURDAY, 19 APR 2014
03:08 PM Beirut time
Weather    
Beirut
27 °C
Blom Index
BLOM
1,214.01down
Middle East
Follow this story Print RSS Feed ePaper share this
Thousands flee as rival troops battle in South Sudan
Agence France Presse
A military tank patrols along one of the main roads in the South Sudanese capital Juba December 16, 2013.  REUTERS/Hakim George
A military tank patrols along one of the main roads in the South Sudanese capital Juba December 16, 2013. REUTERS/Hakim George
A+ A-

JUBA: Rival troops were locked in fresh battles in South Sudan's capital on Tuesday in unrest that has killed at least 66 soldiers and sent thousands of terrified civilians fleeing since an alleged coup bid.

The fighting in the world's youngest nation has set off alarm bells in the international community, with the United Nations urging the warring groups to refrain from ethnic violence.

President Salva Kiir on Monday accused soldiers loyal to his arch-rival, former vice president Riek Machar, of staging a coup attempt in the oil-rich but deeply impoverished nation.

A military hospital doctor said at least 66 soldiers have been killed in the fighting, which erupted late on Sunday in the capital Juba.

Sporadic clashes could be heard Tuesday in several parts of Juba, even though Kiir had announced that the city was under complete control.

A top UN envoy said at least 10,000 civilians "have received protection in the two UNMISS compounds in Juba", and that UN staff were "taking every possible step to ensure their safety".

The special representative of the UN secretary-general, Hilde Johnson, said it was "paramount" that the conflict did not assume ethnic dimensions.

"At a time when unity among South Sudanese is more needed than ever, I call on the leaders of this new country and all political factions and parties, as well as community leaders to refrain from any action that fuels ethnic tensions and exacerbates violence," she said in a statement.

The African Union also said it was "deeply concerned" about the events and urged all players to show "maximum restraint" and work towards a resolution.

The heavy fighting and the alleged coup has underscored the fragility of the nation which only became independent from Sudan in 2011.

Machar -- who was sacked in July -- leads a dissident group within South Sudan's ruling party, the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), and had been seen as the main challenger to Kiir.

The two men hail from different ethnic groups and had in the past fought on different sides during Sudan's long civil war.

South Sudan won its independence in July 2011 after its people voted overwhelmingly in a referendum to split from the north and form a new nation.

Awash with guns after the long war, the country has struggled with ethnic violence and corruption.

An aid worker with the British charity Oxfam, Emma Jane Drew, told AFP by telephone that the situation in Juba was "very tense".

"It's continued shooting. Shooting could be heard all through the night. We don't know who is fighting who," she said, adding her team was unable to leave their compound.

The independent radio station Tamazuj said clashes were taking place around compounds belonging to Machar or his loyalists.

Officials have said several former government ministers have been arrested, although the whereabouts of Machar is unclear.

"So far we have lost seven soldiers who died while they were waiting for medical attention and a further 59 who were killed outside," military hospital doctor Ajak Bullen said on Miraya FM radio.

Another medical establishment, Juba Teaching Hospital, had earlier reported 26 dead, a mixture of civilians and military. It was not clear whether there was any overlap between the figures.

Military spokesman Philip Aguer declined to comment on the casualty figures, telling AFP only: "The soldiers are controlling the situation."

Communications in Juba continued to be sporadic, with most phone lines down and the main airport closed, diplomats and civil aviation officials said.

An AFP reporter said residents living in areas close to military bases were using any lull in the fighting to flee for safer areas, although many said they were too afraid to move.

"We are afraid of going outside," said Juba resident Jane Kiden. "We had wanted to go out and buy food from the market, but how can you go with the shooting? I am staying at home with my children."

There were also unconfirmed reports of troops conducting violent house-to-house searches.

"We have heard unconfirmed reports of house-to-house military checks of civilians including the use of brutality and violence, though this is unconfirmed," Oxfam's Drew said.

The UN statement appeared to back up the reports by emphasising the need for "discipline, command and control in the security forces".

 
Home Middle East
 
     
 
Sudan
Advertisement
Comments  

Your feedback is important to us!

We invite all our readers to share with us their views and comments about this article.

Disclaimer: Comments submitted by third parties on this site are the sole responsibility of the individual(s) whose content is submitted. The Daily Star accepts no responsibility for the content of comment(s), including, without limitation, any error, omission or inaccuracy therein. Please note that your email address will NOT appear on the site.

comments powered by Disqus
Advertisement


Baabda 2014
Advertisement
Follow us on Facebook Follow us on Twitter Follow us on Linked In Follow us on Google+ Subscribe to our Live Feed
Multimedia
Images  
Pictures of the day
A selection of images from around the world- Saturday April 19, 2014
View all view all
Advertisement
Rami G. Khouri
Rami G. Khouri
Why Israeli-Palestinian talks fail
Michael Young
Michael Young
Why confuse gibberish with knowledge?
David Ignatius
David Ignatius
Echoes of 1914 characterize the Ukraine crisis
View all view all
Advertisement
cartoon
 
Click to View Articles
 
 
News
Business
Opinion
Sports
Culture
Technology
Entertainment
Privacy Policy | Anti-Spamming Policy | Disclaimer | Copyright Notice
© 2014 The Daily Star - All Rights Reserved - Designed and Developed By IDS