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Fighting flares up in South Sudan as violence leaves scores dead

UN Security Council expresses ’particular shock’ over attacks on UN peacekeeping mission sites


South Sudan is heading back towards civil war after fighting broke out between rival factions in the nation’s capital, Juba. At least 272 people were killed in the fighting, a health ministry source told.

The clashes began on Friday outside the presidential compound, where president Salva Kiir was meeting the former rebel leader and current vice president, Riek Machar. Shooting reportedly broke out between Kiir’s and Machar’s bodyguards.

The renewed conflict has "echoes of the days before the civil war began", according to the BBC World Service’s Africa Editor, Mary Harper. "Huge distrust remains between Mr Kiir and Mr Machar and between their forces," she says. "The leaders may even be struggling to control their own troops."

Soldiers loyal to Machar have claimed that the vice president’s residence was attacked by the president Kiir’s troops. But Kiir’s information minister, Michael Makuei, says the reports were "dishonest".

UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says the "senseless violence is unacceptable" and has the potential of "reversing the progress made so far in the peace process".

The UN Security Council has used an emergency session to call on the factions to end the violence before it escalates into full-scale conflict. In a unanimous statement, the council expressed "particular shock and outrage" over attacks on UN peacekeeping mission sites in Juba.

Jimirasire

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