The United Nations peacekeeping chief, Herve Ladsous has told the Security Council that 500 people have been killed in the latest fighting between government forces and rebels who attempted to overthrow the current President Salva Kiir.
President Salva Kiir has blamed the fighting on his sacked deputy president, Riek Machar, saying he had wanted to topple the government but government troops foiled the coup and have made 10 arrests so far.
Both President Kiir and Mr. Machar were part of the Sudanese Peoples’ Liberation Movement (SPLM) which fought for independence from Sudan but relation between the two worsen in less than 2 years of independence from Sudan.
The where about of Mr. Machar is unknown but there are suggestions that he might be hiding in neighboring countries.
800 people are said to have been injured in the fighting and around 16,000 people have also taken refuge in the United Nations’ compounds in Juba and the numbers were reported to be rising.
The fighting was reported to have broken out on Sunday night and intensified thereafter with reports of continuous gunfire and several explosions in the capital Juba.
President Kiir told state television that unidentified uniformed personnel opened fire at a meeting of Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM), followed by an attack on the army headquarters near the university carried out by a group of soldiers allied to the former vice-president Dr Riek Machar.
Mr. Ladsous in a closed-door briefing to the 15-member body Security Council said the situation is dangerous and that South Sudan could slip into civil war if measures are not put in place.
The Security Council after the briefing from Mr. Ladsous issued a statement calling for peaceful resolution to the violence.
“The United Nations Security Council urged all parties in South Sudan to immediately cease hostilities, exercise restraint and refrain from violence and other actions that could exacerbate tensions’’, the statement said.
Meanwhile, the United States has urged its citizens to leave the country immediately and said it was suspending normal operations at its embassy in the country.
Secretary of State, John Kerry on a visit to the typhoon devastated area in central Philippine city of Tacloban urged a peaceful and democratic solution to the crisis in South Sudan.
“The United States believes very strongly that all parties should refrain from any action that could further escalate the tensions, political differences need to be resolved by peaceful and democratic means, those that have been hard fought for’’, Mr. Kerry told reporters in the Philippines.
An early night time curfew is still in being observed with communications signals unavailable in many parts of the capital.
Food and water is becoming also very difficult for the population with many calling for regional and international support.
Issaka Adams / NationalTurk Africa News