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South Sudan Death Toll Tops 270

South Sudan Death Toll Tops 270South Sudan Death Toll Tops 270

At least 272 people have died in fighting between South Sudan’s rival factions in the capital Juba, including 33 civilians, a government source said on Sunday, as heavy gunfire erupted again in parts the city.

The fighting broke out on Thursday and Friday between troops loyal to President Salva Kiir and soldiers who support vice president Riek Machar.

The violence has raised fears South Sudan could face more instability after emerging from a two-year civil war, which began in December 2013 after Kiir sacked Machar as vice president, Reuters reported.

On Saturday, Juba was calm, but on Sunday a Reuters witness said gunfire was heard in Gudele and Jebel suburbs of Juba, near the military barracks that hosts troops loyal to Machar.

“For about 30 to 40 minutes we heard sounds of heavy artillery in the direction of Jebel area,” an aide worker based in Juba who did not want to be named told Reuters.

South Sudan’s civil war was fought largely along ethnic lines with Kiir, a Dinka, and Machar, a Nuer, drawing support from their respective tribes.

A peace agreement last August ended the war but Kiir and Machar have yet to integrate their forces, a key part of the peace deal.

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said on Friday the latest violence highlighted a lack of commitment to the peace process and urged the country’s leaders to end the fighting, discipline military leaders and work together to implement the peace deal.

A World Vision aid worker, Jeremiah Young, told local media that the “atmosphere was tense” and residents remained worried that events could “deteriorate”.

Friday’s gunfire erupted outside the presidential compound, where Kiir and Machar were holding talks, and spread through the city, including the vicinity of a UN base that shelters more than 25,000 people.

UN security spokesman, Budbud Chol, said 40 wounded people treated were hit by crossfire outside the base. Another UN spokesperson, Shantal Persaud, said one death had been reported inside the base. UN officials called for a return to calm in South Sudan.

Evacuations have been initiated by some international groups. The International Monetary Fund said its foreign and local staff and their families had been relocated temporarily to Nairobi, Kenya. Foreign diplomats took shelter at the EU compound on Friday night.

Financialtribune.com